• author
    • John Wood

    • April 14, 2017 in Columnists

    A tremendous war helps make America great again!

    Will Trump get to detonate a nuclear bomb?

    Who’s baiting who into World War III?

    Let there be a really big league war. Statistically, limited uses of force do little or nothing for a President’s approval ratings. I’d venture that everyone in Washington D.C. knows that use of force by a President (war) is a lousy way to improve one’s reputation. One study concluded that a major use of force bumped a President’s approval rating by an average of 6 percent, and that usually fades by 50 percent in 90 days. What wars do very well is distract the public’s attention away from domestic issues and pad egos that need to accomplish something.

    Trump wouldn’t be the first President to use military force to create a distraction from failures at home. The Syria attack succeeded in grabbing headlines and played a part in raising his approval rating 6 points. By Washington D.C. standards, those 6 points were pretty inexpensive. The 59 Tomahawk missiles will end up costing taxpayers somewhere between $30-100 million. The Tomahawks used in this attack were the “dumber” version, which cost around $500,000 each, but the Navy has allotted a repurchase budget of $1.5 million per Tomahawk.

    Apparently that raid didn’t send enough of a message to North Korea, so we dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on a bunch of caves in Afghanistan. The North Koreans and Chinese were most likely able to measure that explosion on their seismometers. The North Koreans like caves and it’s likely that if we attack their missile infrastructure, it will take some kind of mountain-busting weapon.

    Trump’s first 80 days are a lesson plan in how fast a President can shift momentum from “party over here” to “let’s start World War III.” According to the Doomsday Clock, we are two and a half minutes to midnight. The only time in the history of the Doomsday Clock that it has been closer was in 1953, when the Soviet Union tested their first hydrogen bomb. Oddly enough, the Pentagon’s Defense Readiness Condition, aka “DEFCON,” was lowered to DEFCON 5. This happened shortly after Trump was inaugurated and was due to his then-great relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

    Why would Trump attack Syria and then North Korea, while advertising that we are at our lowest state of readiness? Could it be bait for Vladimir Putin, who could use a really big war himself? Things are not going well for Vladimir in Russia. The partying on the streets of Moscow supporting Trump’s election victory have been replaced by protests against Putin. Instead of protesting current levels of corruption, Russians should be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the revolution that deposed the last corrupt regime.

    Trump’s missile attack on Syria sent a signal to Russia and China, that despite his campaign promises, the United States will continue to shoot first. The difference between Trump’s use of force and previous Presidents, is that he’s shooting at allies of our most powerful adversaries and in the case of North Korea, China’s best friend in the region. We’re at the brink of  the best chance in a long time to crank up the world’s three largest war machines into a broader, world-wide war.

    Other than showing the world that he’s not sleeping with Putin, I can think of a few reasons Trump wants a really big war. The previously mentioned minor bump in ratings and distraction are always welcome when love at home is fading away. Then there’s the major payday that a big war creates for defense contractors. Poor defense contractors, despite supplying friends in the fight against ISIL and the Taliban — business just isn’t what it was when the United States and our allies were fully engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. War is like heroin, and the defense contractor industry is the junkie.

    Unfortunately for the world, World War III won’t be over an oppressive government trying to assimilate the world it wants and murder everyone else in the way. World War II had an end game: absolute victory that insured freedom and life for hundreds of millions of people who were unable to defend themselves. Furthermore, regardless if we allowed it or not, the Japanese saw fit to invite us to war by attacking Pearl Harbor.

    In Syria, there’s no endgame or exit strategy for the United States. Get hypothetical for a minute. What if ISIL is exterminated in Syria? If ISIL is rendered useless, the missions of the United States and Russia would be in direct opposition to each other. We’ll be fighting to depose Assad and Russia will be fighting to support Assad. A really big world war would help sort that out, because whoever won could determine Syria’s future.

    The North Korean setup to a bigger war is simpler. Many are making the case for why China can’t control North Korea. I suggest China is just fine with North Korea’s actions,  including a provocative missile test as Trump was getting ready to meet with Chinese President Jingping. Analysis of recovered North Korean missile parts points to China as the main source of parts and technology. If China didn’t want these missiles to fly, they’d simply not provide either technology or hardware to North Korea.

    If China was inclined to restrain North Korea, it could have marched the 150,000 troops she moved to the border area with North Korea, into Pyongyang, and terminated the lifetime presidency of Kim Jong-il. Instead, the  United States has moved Air Force and Naval assets into the region, including a carrier task force.

    Trump has bragged about how great a negotiator he is. The missile attack on Syria and the MOAB bomb show that Trump is willing to use premium military ordinance in a show of force, regardless if it makes strategic sense. I am wondering if putting a carrier group within range of Chinese and Russian “carrier-killer” assets is his idea of a negotiation by bluffing? If Trump wants a bigger war, offering up the Carl Vinson could be the same kind of bait that Pearl Harbor was.

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