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VIDEO: How President Trump can deal with the North Korean threat

General HR McMaster

President Trump’s National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

Trump National Security Adviser, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, had an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on  the network’s “This Week” program on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. The issue de jour was what to do about bellicose hermit state North  Korea . On the 105th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the dynastic Communist regime , grandfather Kim Il Sung,  a massive military parade was held in Pyongyang ,  Saturday April 15th. There with televised images of huge goose stepping marching formations  and displays of both mobile Musdan intermediate range and submarine launched missiles. As if on cue, North Korea attempted another missile launch following the celebratory parade that blew up on the launching pad, prompting a muted response from the White House.

This followed demonstrations of force with a US Navy Tomahawk missile strike on an airbase in Syria, allegedly the site from which gas attacks were launched against civilians and opposition in Idlib province. That was followed this week by the dropping of a MOAB,  so-called massive ordnance air burst bomb, from a USAF C-130 in Afghanistan. It allegedly  aimed destroyed  caves and tunnels used by ISIS, with conflicting reports as to casualties ranging from 36 to upwards of 100 casualties.

The parade in the vast Pyongyang square was held before hereditary leader Kim Jong-un and what passes for the North Korean Comintern leadership.  McMaster speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan said in response to Raddatz’s question about the Trump Administration would do against this threat overarching that of ISIS and Syria in the Middle East:

While it’s unclear and we do not want to telegraph in any way how we’ll respond to certain incidents, it’s clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States.

I think there’s an international consensus now, including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just can’t continue. And the president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons. He said the National Security Council is working with the Pentagon and the State Department, and intelligence agencies  working on providing options “and have them ready” for President Donald Trump “if this pattern of destabilizing behavior continues.”

McMaster said it is the consensus of the US, along with allies in the region,that “this problem is coming to a head. And so it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military options, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

Watch the ABC This Week  Martha Raddatz Interview  with National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. McMaster:

Trump tweeted Thursday that he had “great confidence” in China’s ability to “properly deal with North Korea.” He indicated openness to possible US intervention if China can’t convince North Korea to stand down in its nuclear and missile program saying, “If they are unable to do so, the U.S. with its allies, will!!”

Perhaps he was referring to the USS Vinson carrier battle group that was dispatched to the peninsula bristling with missiles, squadrons of carrier based attack aircraft and possibly nuclear warhead missiles  submarines.

Trump dispatched Vice President Pence to South Korea to confer with our ally on the front line of any threat, conventional or non-conventional , that Pyongyang might unleash if the US undertook a preemptive attack.

Japan’s  Premier Abe was concerned about the ability of North Korea to launch a missile with a Sarin gas warhead. That was eerily reminiscent of the domestic  Japanese terrorism attacks of the 1990’s by an apocalyptic cult Aum Shinrikyo, whose chemical laboratory produced the deadly nerve agent that killed over two dozen and in a subway attack exposed thousands to its effects. Doubtless, Abe was prompted by the recent assassination of Kim’s half brother in Kuala Lumpur by two women who administered the deadly nerve agent VX.

Abe and tens of millions of Home Island Japanese are also concerned about possible delivery of a nuclear warhead equipped existing North Korean Missile with a range of 800 miles like the Nodong 1. Equally concerned are the 20 million residents of Seoul South Korean and tens of thousands of U.S. forces on the DMZ. Then there are US Air and Naval assets in Japan, Okinawa and the American Territory of Guam within the 2,000 mile range of those Musudan mobile missiles on display in Pyongyang.

We chanced to watch the PBS Charlie Rose Show on April 14th when he interviewed former acting CIA director Mike Morell about the North Korean threat conundrum.  When queried by Rose about what might Trump ask China President, Xi-Jinping Morrell,  said negotiate with China to intervene with North Korea’s Kin Jong-un  about the consequences of not standing down.

Gordon Chang said it best  in an April 4, 2017 Daily Beast article about what Trump might discuss with Xi-Jinping  just prior to the Mar a-Lago meeting  with President Trump. China should stop selling North Korea those mobile erector TEL launchers for the Musudan and future KN-08 and KN-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles, plans for the Chinese Jl-1 submarine  missile, uranium hexafluoride, pumps   and other components for its nuclear program. We would  also include the sale of  Chinese alumna power and technology used to mix solid propellant for those missiles.

The reality is that none of this is going to persuade  Kim Jong-un, a man who doesn’t stint for murdering his own family, relatives and  senior  Comintern members and  senior officers of North Korea’s military. Trillions of dollars of bribes wouldn’t suffice. Sanctions haven’t worked. What it suggests is some means of removing Kim and perhaps key Comintern leaders from that dias overlooking  the massive parade in Pyongyang on April 15th.

In all seriousness, the China syndrome is not something we want to trigger. Rather it is using the China opening to prevent that from happening along with whatever nuclear missile threat that North Korea has under looming development. The other suggestion was accelerating more effective anti-ballistic missile defense in the critical boost rather than mid-course or terminal phases.  We may know shortly if North Korea has mastered the re-entry shield for deployment of possible multiple targeted  warheads.

Trump has very limited options and time available to do something to stop North Korea before the 2018 midterm election if not the before 2020. He doubtless  will  request that  National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Pentagon chief Mattis and others on the NSC Principals Committee vet some plausible military and diplomatic  options to deny the hermit kingdom from a preemptive attack on our allies and US military assets in the region. Perhaps they might follow  Chang’s suggestions about what to negotiate with China to forestall North Korea achieving nuclear ICBM hegemony.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pence: ‘Era of strategic patience’ on North Korea is over

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be facing a Court Martial for desertion

If the reports we have posted from members of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon in the 25th Infantry Division in Afghanistan are any indication, he could, upon investigation, be subject to possible charges of desertion.  The Los Angeles Times reported  Facebook posts by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, that could make this  be a distinct possibility, “Gen. Dempsey: Army may still pursue desertion charge for Bowe Bergdahl”.

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General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff.

Dempsey wrote on his Facebook page:

Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred.

Any decision on disciplinary measures will be up to the Army, Dempsey said in the interview. He said he does not want to pre-judge Bergdahl or say anything that might influence Army commanders.

In the Facebook post, Dempsey said in response to “those of you interested in my personal judgments about the recovery of SGT. Bowe Bergdahl, the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity.”

He added: “This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him.”

Dempsey said: “I want to thank those who for almost five years worked to find him, prepared to rescue him, and ultimately put themselves at risk to recover him.”

That last comment was perhaps an allusion to the six Army personnel from his unit who were killed  while  conducting a search for Sgt. Bergdahl. Article 85 of the Universal Military Code of Justice, Desertion, reads as follows:

(a) Any member of the armed forces who—

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

That prospect could be what awaits Sgt. Bergdahl after he recovers from his ordeal and  evidence is presented to have him charged and brought before a courts martial proceeding.

The Los Angeles Times report cites Yale Law School military law expert, Eugene Fidell, who reviewed the conditions under which evidence might lead to a desertion charge under Article 85 and what options the Army might have available.

Bergdahl could face court-martial if the Army uncovers sufficient evidence of desertion, said Fidell. The Army might also decide to separate Bergdahl from the service through administrative procedures.

Any physical or psychological trauma could make Bergdahl unfit for continued service, Fidell said. If so, the Army would likely begin the process of arranging for retirement, medical care and other benefits.

Because the U.S. is not formally at war with the Taliban — Congress authorized military force against terrorists — a soldier serving in Afghanistan would not face the death penalty if convicted of desertion, Fidell said. The maximum penalty under these circumstances is five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for “intent to avoid hazardous duty or shirk important service,” Fidell said.

[…]

Fidell said the military may decide that, regardless of any offenses Bergdahl may have committed, he suffered nearly five years in enemy custody and should not be punished further.

The Obama Administration seized the opportunity to exchange Bergdahl for release of five Taliban commanders and war criminals to the custody of the Emir of Qatar for a year to reduce Guantanamo’s last contingent of hard core Jihadist detainees.  That has been strenuously objected to by both the Chairmen of House Intelligence and Armed services Committees and several Ranking members of similar committees in the Senate.  They are calling for a investigation followed by hearings on the release of these Taliban commanders who might organize capture of other US and ISA coalition forces before the conflict in Afghanistan winds down.

Any actions against the 28 year old Army sergeant may be unlikely to come to the fore because of the objective of extracting virtually all US? ISA troops from combat operations before election day in 2016.  That is, unless Congress weighs in with investigative hearings.

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MAD Magazine poster on release of Bergdahl. For a larger view click on the image.

Brett Stephens in a Wall Street Journal   op ed, The Bergdahl Dishonor, quoted a White House official saying “Frankly we don’t give a sh-t why he left”. “He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.”  A point also made by General Dempsey. That comment came n from the June 2012 Rolling Stone piece on the Bergdahl desertion controversy written by the late Michael Hastings, “America’s last Prisoner of War. 

But that belies the fact that others died trying to secure his freedom from the Jihadists, while he forsook his oath upon enlistment in the Army:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Moreover, the capture of Bergdahl may have emboldened the Taliban to undertake murderous attacks using I.E.D’s and other means resulting in casualties to other US ISA troops operating in the same province. Those issues were sharpened in a Weekly Standard piece, contrasting remarks by Susan Rice, National Security Adviser, with a soldier in Bergdahl’s unit, ‘We Swore to an Oath and We Upheld Ours. He Did Not.’

In an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday June 1, 2014, National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed that Bergdahl “wasn’t simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, taken on the battlefield.” She added: “He served the United States with honor and distinction.”

“That’s not true,” says Specialist Cody Full, who served in the same platoon as Bergdahl, and whose tweets over the weekend as @CodyFNfootball offered an early firsthand account of Bergdahl’s departure. “He was not a hero. What he did was not honorable. He knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger because he did. We swore to an oath and we upheld ours. He did not.

RELATED VIDEOS:

Obama Smiles Immediately Upon Hearing Bergdahl’s Dad Declare Muslim Victory Call

[youtube]http://youtu.be/yBrp0VDUvjA[/youtube]

 

Wall Street Journal – Taliban release video of Bergdahl’s release

RELATED ARTICLES:

US Troops who served with Abdullah Bergdahl feared he was giving Taliban intel: “IEDs Started Going Off Directly Under The Trucks, They Were Getting Perfect Hits Every Time”
Special forces found Bergdahl and captors but wouldn’t risk rescue for “deserter”
Col. David Hunt: Bergdahl Called Unit The Day After He Walked Away Saying ‘I’ve Deserted’
Bergdahl Left Note Saying He Wanted to Renounce His American Citizenship and Go Find the Taliban

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured image is courtesy of WPTV Channel 5, West Palm Beach, FL.