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All the Winning



There is so much winning going on in our foreign policy that I for one am getting sick of it.

Compounding their anger over the Carl Vinson episode, many South Koreans were also riled at Mr. Trump for his assertion in a Wall Street Journal interview last week that the Korean Peninsula “used to be a part of China.” Although Korea was often invaded by China and forced to pay tributes to its giant neighbor, many Koreans say the notion that they were once Chinese subjects is egregiously insulting.

“The 50 million South Koreans, as well as many common-sensical people around the world, cannot help but feel embarrassed and shocked,” said Youn Kwan-suk, spokesman of the main opposition Democratic Party, which is leading in voter surveys before the May 9 presidential election.

American aircraft carriers regularly visit areas near the Korean Peninsula as part of annual military exercises with South Korea and Japan. But when the United States Pacific Command said on April 9 that the Carl Vinson had been ordered to leave Singapore and return to the Western Pacific, the decision was considered highly unusual, as the carrier had been in exercises off the Korean Peninsula just last month.

“We’re sending an armada,” President Trump said at the time.

You have to go pretty far to alienate South Korea. I mean, what do our allies in east Asia have to offer us anyway?

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  • sigaba

    Trump's special advisor on all things Chinee, Xi Jinping, explained the whole situation to him, he gets it now. They have a great rapport.

  • Also, the thing in Nanking was just about some harmless Japanese groping. No big deal.

    • When you’re a Rising Sun, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab’em by the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

      That’s Showa business for you.

      • sibusisodan

        Showa business is a work of genius.

        • q-tip

          I dimly remember reading a critique* of the “Holocaust industry” back in the 1990s that included the line “Therr’s no business like the Shoah business.”

          * (it wasn’t denialist or anything, just decrying commercialization and corporate involvement in memorials, commemorations, etc.)

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            Haven’t read it, but I’m pretty sure that was written by Norman Finkelstein.

            • q-tip

              Thanks for the name! I know I didn’t read Finkelstein’s 2000 book The Holocaust Industry,, so it must have been a review somewhere… I feel like it was longer-form magazine work, so maybe NYRB? God, I hate getting old and forgetful.

      • Musashi

        If there was a Hall of Fame for blog comments Lee’s comment would be at the very top of the list

  • Q.E.Dumbass
    • Rob in CT

      I started typing up a fisking of that but in the end, meh.

      Here’s the conclusion:

      There are good reasons to celebrate Trumpism’s death—its racism, for instance, was and is despicable. But on issues not related to reasserting white supremacy, Trumpism had much to offer. Its death all but ensures that American politics will return to the very status quo that gave us Trump in the first place, and the nation will find itself in the worst possible situation: with an incompetent manager in charge, and without the benefit of the few positive policies he once promised.

      I mean, except for the immigration crack-down and green light being given to law enforcement to crack some heads.

      But this was obvious from day 1. He was never going to deliver on what Heer calls “Trumpism” – it was all bullshit.

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        He never engaged in this shit during the election cycle, so I’m like 87.3% certain he’s trolling. Note how he admits that the “relatively good” portions of Trumpism had zero chance of becoming reality because Abu Ivanka al-Amriki is too self-evidently fucking stupid & impulsive to see them through.

        • Tony Pius

          Abu Ivanka al-Amriki

          My God, that’s beautiful.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            It’s actually a term Northern Syrian ground forces were reported as using w/r/t Donald.

      • Murc

        But on issues not related to reasserting white supremacy, Trumpism had much to offer.

        Trumpism without the white supremacy is basically just a crude kind of mercantilism and protectionism, with just a smidge of populist economics.

        Somehow, I don’t think that if someone were to offer up Trumpism without the white supremacy, Heer would take it at all seriously.

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          As it is “Trumpism” is really just a rebranding of herrenvolk democracy.

  • Nathan Goldwag

    Tillerson also referred to the Sea of Japan as the Sea of Japan in a press release instead of the preferred Korean name, the ‘East Sea’. And people there take that very, very seriously. When I was in college, EVERY SINGLE textbook with a map of East Asia that I bought had had ‘Sea of Japan’ crossed out by someone and replaced.

    • N__B

      Wait until Tillerson is in Beijing and makes a reference to Manchukuo. Then the fun will really start.

      • Domino

        Should invite Toru Hashimoto to that announcement as well, while they’re at it.

      • Dennis Orphen

        Well, this administration reads aloud whatever the Russians put in front of them. So let’s wait and see. More examples of what’s in a Trump administration for Putin. We can burn through 60 years of goodwill (or what passed for it in realpolitik) fast, possibly to Russia’s benefit in the longer run. Russia certainly has nothing to lose due to our screw-ups, unlike the United States/NATO.

        • NonyNony

          Except now it seems that Trump is also somewhat enamored with Xi Jinping as well. So perhaps we’ll see him drift over to Chinese talking points instead of Russian ones for a while.

          • witlesschum

            Is “Whatever the last world leader I talked to thinks” technically a foreign policy or not?

      • Nathan Goldwag

        I refuse to believe that Tillerson has done enough research to know what Manchukuo is.

    • q-tip

      When I was in college, EVERY SINGLE textbook with a map of East Asia that I bought had had ‘Sea of Japan’ crossed out by someone and replaced.

      Used textbooks, I’m assuming? Otherwise there was a pretty obsessive person at either the publisher or the campus bookstore.

      In fact, that latter scenario seems likelier than a bunch of individual map-amendments by students selling their books back, now that I think about it!

      (Sorry, I can’t help being curious about this small odd detail.)

      • Nathan Goldwag

        They were rented textbooks so it COULD have been someone at the Bookstore actually. Also, they were all for the same class (Japan and Korea in Modern History) so there could have just been some angry Korean student who took the class a year before me.

  • rea

    You have to go pretty far to alienate South Korea.

    GWB ran into this problem, too. For some inexplicable reason, the South Koreans don’t appreciate our willingness to resist North Korean aggression by fighting to the last South Korean.

    • lahtiji

      They wouldn’t last a day in Zapp Brannigan’s military!

  • Frank Wilhoit

    What Orwell meant when he said “ignorance is strength” was actually “knowledge is weakness”. Knowledge leads to perspective and perspective leads to getting rolled. So thinks Trump and so think his people (except the ones who are riding the bandwagon for gain or privilege). Trump channels and represents this attitude perfectly, which makes him a good figurehead, but, like all individual figureheads, he is still fungible.

    The rest is simply the familiar Republican assumption that the U!! S!! of A!! will never need a friend. This resonates with Trump, rather than him resonating with it.

    All of this pre-dates Trump and will last after him.

  • Warren Terra

    Erik, I think it’s unfair that you act like we let down our South Korean allies. Haven’t you seen this story of our determinedly deploying devastating devices of domination in the Korean conflict, just this past Monday?

    There has been much discussion in Washington about Pence’s short visit to the demilitarized zone, where he stood outside the Freedom House on the South Korean side of the border and stared into North Korea. Pence wasn’t supposed to walk outside, according to the schedule, but he decided in the moment he wanted to send a message directly to the North Koreans.

    “I thought it was important that we went outside,” he said. “I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face.”

    The resolve in Mike Pence’s face, Erik. There for all of North Korea to say, suddenly and unexpectedly present on their Southern border, a countenance of implacability and an unruffled resolve falling on them like the Mother Of All Aplombs!

    When you’ve got the surprise launching of Mike Pence’s fixed gaze, possibly trained by Derek Zoolander himself in the secrets of Blue Steel, who needs an Aircraft carrier? Who cares that despite its promised deployment it’s actually thousands of miles away and steaming in the wrong direction? No aircraft carrier ever stepped out onto the edge of the DMZ and looked dyspeptic in a northerly direction.

    • sibusisodan

      “I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face.”

      “Is he constipated?”

      “No, I reckon he just can’t remember whether he locked his back door.”

      • witlesschum

        “Just between us, Comrade, I thought that perhaps the novels we read where Comrade Kim Jong Un frightens the American leaders into incontinence with a raised eyebrow were exaggerated tellings of real events which an understandable artistic license had been taken with, all for the good of the army and the revolution.
        “But having seen Mike Pence through these binoculars I can only assume Comrade Kim was being modest.”

        “I know, right? I was thinking the same exact thing the whole time he was sort of wandering around there, but I was afraid you’d inform on me if I said anything!”

    • wengler

      I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face.

      I’m sure his scowl made it all the way to Pyongyang. See guys, this is how Obama was doing it wrong.

      • q-tip

        I’d say “squint,” not “scowl,” but yeah – Obama didn’t do nearly enough squinting or scowling.

        (I WONDER WHY)

  • tsam

    I mean, what do our allies in east Asia have to offer us anyway?

    A check on Eurasia, of course.

  • Aaron Morrow

    Clearly, Trump is aware of all Chinese Korean traditions, particularly the taking of the left turn at Albuquerque.

  • Mr T

    Korea used to belong to China in the same way that a lot of the USA belonged to Great Britain. (posted from Australia)

    Korea also belonged to Japan in the same way.

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