Home / Robert Farley / Resolve McResolveyFace

Resolve McResolveyFace

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks at the North side from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea, Monday, April 17, 2017. Viewing his adversaries in the distance, Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
The Steely Face of American Resolve

I get snarky at the Diplomat:

Has the Trump administration developed, over the past two weeks, a doctrine that emphasizes maintaining a robust reputation for resolve that will make its feel secure and its enemies shudder in terror? According to advocates of a robust view of credibility, a belief that the United States will act militarily to enforce its commitments changes the behavior of potential foes; believing in the strength of U.S. resolve, they will believe in the credibility of U.S. commitments. With that in mind, let’s review the events of the past two weeks.

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  • Snarki, child of Loki

    “There’s something wrong with these binoculars!”

    “You need to set the eyepieces to match your eyes”

    “The won’t move that close together. Stupid binoculars.”

    • rhino

      I think he also needs to stand on a box, like the youngest kids in the school photo.

      Fitting, really.

    • Dilan Esper

      He forgot to insert the quarter.

  • Me thinks that perhaps our credibility would be enhanced if the administration simply resolved itself to knowing the location of our military forces before committing thought to speech.

    • efgoldman

      Dense is and always has been eminently mockable, but to serious up for a minute: Neither our [potential] enemies nor our real or nominal allies have any way directly to deal with this maladministration excuse for a government. There are no ambassadors, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, no service secretaries in DoD, no staffs… literally hundreds of positions who’s job it is to keep information and analysis flowing in both directions, by staying in contact with their counterparts around the world and with their bosses in DC. President Bannonazi and his assistant, Mango Malignancy, have left these jobs vacant on purpose, for reasons of their own. Like everything they do, this is unbefuckinglievably stupid and truly, truly dangerous.

      Rob, if you’re reading this, perhaps a thread?

      • VCarlson

        Presumably, the president* (thought he) meant it – for certain values of “thought” when he said “I alone can fix it.”

        Which sent shivers of horror through me at the time, though I did not expect him to hollow out the mechanisms of government. Which is even worse. I am back in my Bush II era thinking of “I know it’s some combination of malice and stupidity. I am no longer interested in the exact proportions.”

        • TopsyJane

          Dubya is a Good Man. Barack and Michelle said so.

          • BruceJ

            Dubya was merely maliciously stupid. There’s a certain predictability to being so stupid you don’t know when you’re fucking things up.

            Trump is stupidly malicious. It’s entirely different when they’re deliberately fucking things up in a very stupid fashion.

            One gets you Iraq. The other gets you WWIII…

  • Malaclypse

    I genuinely wonder how many hours Pence spent staring at a mirror practicing Steely Resplute Face. My guess is three hours.

    • N__B

      He didn’t need a mirror. Mother gave him encouraging critique.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        it was nice of Mother Pence to stitch Mike’s name and title onto the front of his jacket for him. I am a little surprised it’s right side up- I thought maybe he’d want it so he could read it while wearing the jacket

        • rhino

          Yeah, notice it’s in english?

          I could see it being written in Korean, as a courtesy to people who might not be familiar with the face of the vice president of the United States. Needing your name and title embroidered on your clothing *for your own people to read* is a little strange. Either he is so insecure he fears they won’t know his face, or he is so proud of being picked by daddy trump that he needs to show it off in every way possible. Either one is problematic in a guy who will almost certainly become POTUS within 2 years.

          Vaya con dios, amigos.

        • John Revolta

          The first time I saw this was on


          DAN QUAYLE

          On him, it looked really pathetic.

    • DAS

      He’s making that face … on purpose? I thought he was just really constipated.

      • Morbo
      • rhino

        Constipated was my first guess. Second was trying to hold in a possible shart.

        Either way, it’s shit.

      • Hogan

        Who cares about Derek Zoolander anyway? The man has only one look, for Christ’s sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They’re the same face! Doesn’t anybody notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

        • NonyNony

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who jumped to Zoolander when they saw that pic.

          That’s Pence definitely trying to give a Blue Steel look.

    • Mike G

      This is GW Bush all over again. Repeating the word “resolve” in speeches sixty-jillion times because his advisors tell him it makes him sound like a big boy, squinting at the camera in poor imitation of some Clint Eastwood scowl from a movie; and the obsession with clothing swag with his name and title on it. Inside he’s a little kid pretending to be a grownup.

      Meanwhile our foes laugh their ass off at this transparent posturing that only highlights how much these empty suits are scared poodles peeing their pants.

      • efgoldman

        Meanwhile our foes laugh their ass off at this transparent posturing

        They laugh at the concepts, I’m sure, but their analysts (friend and for alike) have to be scared shitless by the four-year old allegedly in charge.

        • Pseudonym

          And perhaps the only way to effectively defend oneself against a powerful but unpredictable and impulsive foe is with a robust deterrent. North Korea would be crazy not to develop nuclear weapons.

      • Brad Nailer

        I would say, “Thanks, Indiana,” but even they were getting tired of this creep before he failed upward.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    I went in the county courthouse yesterday and inadvertently glanced at the official portraits of our illustrious President, vice President and Governor on the wall just inside the main entry

    “steely resolve” is definitely what Trump was hoping to evoke, leaning into the camera with a squint. He looks more “confused and constipated”. Pence has this “I can’t *believe* this worked” expression and Branstad is… just there, as usual, as it seems he’s *always* been

    • randy khan

      I’m curious – were there portraits of the President and Vice President in the county courthouse a year ago, or are they a new feature?

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        no, a year ago I would have seen Obama and Biden

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          I hear they removed the “surveyor’s marks” in Jan 2017.

        • randy khan

          Interesting. Portraits of the President and Vice President aren’t that common in state-level government buildings I visit. (The governor, on the other hand, is pretty common.) I’m glad it wasn’t a manifestation of people liking the current occupants, but not the previous ones.

      • ploeg

        You might see pictures of them in your local post office before too long.

  • CP

    Has the Trump administration developed, over the past two weeks, a doctrine that emphasizes maintaining a robust reputation for resolve that will make its feel secure and its enemies shudder in terror?

    I mean, this is literally how they think foreign policy works: the “do you feel lucky?” moment from Dirty Harry, repeated over and over ad infinitum.

    Except of course, in this scenario, the other guy has a gun too and the good guy can’t fire without hitting his own partners, which makes the whole thing distinctly less impressive.

    • Rob in CT

      Let’s hope they haven’t been watching Speed.

  • CP

    Also, can I add that the only contribution Donald Trump has made to our credibility so far was to announce a couple weeks back that Assad wasn’t a big deal anymore – after which it took literally all of three days before the chemical weapons were released.

  • rea

    Who cares where that aircraft carrier is? Pence said we’re going after them with swords! “The sword stands ready . . .”

    • Lamont Cranston

      I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t literally rattle a saber.

      ETA: Why must they laugh at my mighty sword?

      • efgoldman

        I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t literally rattle a saber.

        1) I’m pretty sure you need more than one saber to rattle (2) Mother wouldn’t let him for fear that he’d slice his own hand or foot off.

        • bender

          I would think that you rattle a saber by drawing it part way out of the sheath and then shaking the sheath.

          • efgoldman

            Point (2) still stands

          • guthrie

            I did some historical fencing, and plenty of 19th century sabres came in metal scabbards (not sheaths) which rattled nicely when shaken or moved about.

  • Steven desJardins

    Revealing our greatest weakness was a chump move. What will we do if North Koreans stand outside the White House and stare at Trump? We have no defense.

    • CP

      What will we do if North Koreans stand outside the White House and stare at Trump?

      That might be a good way for the North Koreans to punish their political prisoners.

    • Bruce B.

      That’d be why they’re closing the sidewalk: to foil attempts at soul-stealing gaze magic.

  • More like the Gradually realizing he doesn’t have his keys face.

    • wjts

      Race Bannon Action Figure in the Microwave Face.

    • SP

      He’s trying really really hard but the laser beam eyes just won’t turn on.

    • rhino

      I’m happily attached to a lovely woman. But I really want to carry on an extended, kinky, and wild affair with this comment.

      • I’m unhappily married in a divorce that is taking for freaking ever. I got this.

  • Sifu Snafu

    Anybody else notice that he looks like Cotton Hill?

    • cleek

      my shins!

    • JKTH

      Give him a decade or two and he’ll be Cotton’s twin.

    • Yes!

  • cleek

    so, what are all the little white arrows for?

    • rhino

      I am willing to bet one of our military types can explain better, but I believe they are reference points for compass bearings. I’ve seen similar things set up in tours of historical forts, they were used so that observers could call directions to mortar crews.

      I didn’t know they were still a thing, though, so maybe they have some other use?

    • koolhand21

      I think they’re for the photographer in the lift and to tell Pence where to stand staring steelily at the NoKos. I am a veteran but was not trained in the steely-staring arts of a country’s XO.

      • rhino

        I don’t think so, they seem to be all around the parapet.

  • Crusty

    I’m telling you, by the end of their term, Trump and Pence are going to be walking around in faux general uniforms.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      “Trump and Pence are going to be walking around in faux general uniforms.”

      PENCE will have the “faux gold”, TRUMP’s uniform will be so gold-encrusted that he’ll have to be moved by fork-lift.

      • NonyNony

        Trump’s will be faux gold. The man loves his fake gold.

        Pence will have to settle for faux silver. No way Trump lets Pence wear gold. That’s HIS color.

        • Bill Murray

          plus the silver matches Pence’s hair, while the gold matches Trump’s skin tone

    • VCarlson

      Any guesses on when the first medals appear? Or gold (for the president*) or silver (for the VP*) braid?

      I see it as a gradual metamorphosis, because they think we won’t notice it if they do it that way.

  • A toy VP for a toy country. Not big enough for the job.

  • randy khan

    I assume that all of the state actors have figured out that this is a reality show Presidency in which symbolic actions take on all of the gravity (at least from the President’s point of view) of substantive actions. So the last couple of weeks shouldn’t have surprised any of them.

  • Hells Littlest Angel

    He didn’t pound his chest and throw feces across the border. SAD!

    • Malaclypse

      There’s already a pee tape, we don’t need to go full-on scat.

  • D.N. Nation

    Very unfortunate they couldn’t get the George W. Bush-Approved® Flight Suit and Codpiece out to him in time.

  • Todd

    I looked at the picture, so I know that the U.S. doesn’t care about N. Korea. If we did, that picture would show a man who married the President’s daughter.

    • John Revolta



  • Deggjr

    That is Pence’s radio talk show face (“Rush Limbaugh on decaf”), with a touch of caffeine too. Look out NK! You’re in so much trouble when the Carl Vinson shows up.

    • rea

      Look out NK! You’re in so much trouble when the Carl Vinson shows up.

      If the Administration can find her.

  • Rob in CT

    These fuckin’ guys.

    Trump does his Mussolini scowl.
    Pence does this constipation face.


    Behold the hairless ape in all his glory.

  • Mike Furlan

    I wasn’t sure where I’d seen that look before, but then I remembered, Mr. Furious


  • Murc

    You know… a normal person would have just said “I wanted to look at across the DMZ myself, and there was no reason not to, so I went outside and did it.”

    I mean… that would have satisfied everyone, right?

  • liberal

    Yeah, yeah, this is easy pickins’.

    But when Trump et al. produced a case for a Syrian Government sarin attack a couple weeks ago, half the commentariat here was completely fine with it. And…now Ted Postol has completely destroyed the administration’s case.

    • Rob in CT

      Half the commentariat? That’s not my recollection at all. I remember like 2 posters who took the “I’m totally fine with bombing Syria, but” line.

      Also, who is Ted Postol?

      • Hogan
        • Rob in CT

          Unz… why do I remember that name?

          Ah, yes, I remember him now. Ahem.

          Anyway, as to the analysis… frankly I’m not qualified to evaluate it. It pinged my “JET FUEL CAN’T MELT STEEL” detector, though.

          And oh, my, the comments. I mean, really. You’ve got multiple people continuing to argue Lincoln was THE WORST (easily worse than Assad), another guy ranting about The JOOZ, another who thinks the UK government under Blair murdered a dissenting scientist, etc

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            The Google News results are…less-than-encouraging.

            OK, straight-up: The only sources featuring the Postol report that aren’t obvious, written-in-bilious-stool lunacy are a) an interview by Alternet’s Steven Rosenfeld; b) a Nation interview with Postol [that also leans a bit on Consortium News for sourcing], and c) an Indian site that only mentions it in passing.

            • Q.E.Dumbass

              Sorry — the link redirects to the third page of results,
              not the first.

  • Woodrowfan

    If the Carl Vinson were to turn around and head back to Korea, how long would it take to reach striking distance of North Korea?? (assuming they would want to strike any part of the DPRK) Some righties I read on the book o’Faces have been claiming “yeah, well, it’s not THAT far away and can be there really quick!”

    • Murc

      I don’t know why we’d even need the Vinson. Don’t we have a ton of bases in Japan within easy flight time to the DPRK?

      • Woodrowfan

        there you go, being reality=based again. ;)

      • randy khan

        If Wikipedia is right (and this particular page actually says it might not be completely correct), we have 5 Air Force bases in South Korea, within even easier flight time to the DPRK.

        • Woodrowfan

          I know. But some of the righties have been arguing that it doesn’t matter that the Vinson was sailing to do exercises with the Australian Navy and not sailing towards Korea because it could get to Korea “quickly” therefore Trump and Pence did not lie.

          • Hogan

            Maybe it could get there quickly if it caught a plane. Otherwise it’s roughly 3000 nautical miles at a top speed of around 30 knots.

            • Rob in CT

              So ~4 days.

            • TheoLib

              This just occurred to me: can the rest of the ships in the group keep up with it? Not an expert, but just wondering.

              • efgoldman

                can the rest of the ships in the group keep up with it?

                They have to. Otherwise there’s no point to having them together (the escorts’ #1 mission is to protect the carrier).

                • Pseudonym

                  The carrier might be faster: it’s nuclear-powered and it doesn’t sail in a straight line but turns into the wind to launch planes.

      • Pseudonym

        Since North Korea presumably has a robust air defense network that would prevent us from pushing MOABs out of C-130s, I’d imagine a military strike would involve B-2s, which would presumably fly from the US. Or Tomahawks, which have a 1000 mile range and are launched from destroyers or subs.

      • Brad Nailer

        Gunboat diplomacy requires gunboats.

  • Yankee

    The General came in his new tin hat
    to shell-torn trench where the war was at

  • Mike Pence in his best “Fearless Girl” pose.

  • Murc

    … is that Agent Smith in the background?

  • bob333

    As noted elsewhere this is the stern steel eye gaze of a man who won’t have dinner alone with a woman.

    • Lamont Cranston

      Hey, he has dinner alone with Mother all the time!

  • Aaron Morrow

    “You gotta move on. Stop living in the past, and look what you got right in front of you.”
    “… what are you talking about, sir?”
    “Me, Joe.”

  • Pseudonym

    The one effective thing Trump has done to show resolve is alienating most of our allies. North Korea’s primary deterrent against a US attack is its ability to destroy Seoul and possibly nuke Japan. The Trump administration is doing a good job of showing that it doesn’t give a shit: that’s just two fewer countries taking our jerbs and our defense spending.

  • Mike G

    This is gold —

    Mike Pence is a Fucking Joke

    “Say hello to our Elderly Lego Man Vice President, wearing his varsity Vice Presidenting jacket and standing, with an intensity reserved almost exclusively for constipation sufferers, near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. Supposedly, Pence wasn’t meant to go outside during his visit to the DMZ, but this man LIVES FOR THE FUCKING DANGER, and for easily manipulated photo ops.”

  • Daragh

    SCENE – 17 April, the Demilitarised Zone, North Korean side.

    A NORTH KOREAN PRIVATE enters a guard post, and begins his daily watch.

    NK PRIVATE (Thinking) – It is truly a glorious honour that the Supreme Leader has bestowed upon me in trusting me to guard our side of the DMZ, but sometimes it can get terribly boring.

    A few moments pass. Suddenly, the NK PRIVATE notices something.

    NK PRIVATE (Thinking) – Hmmm, movement. (he raises his binoculars) There’s a white man on the other side of the DMZ. (he looks again) What is that look on his face? Is he… is he constipated?

    The NK PRIVATE takes out a radio to call his superior.

    NK PRIVATE – Sergeant, there is a constipated white man on the other side of the DMZ. Please advise.

    NK SERGEANT – Not to worry Private, it is simply the Vice President of the American Pig Dogs, here on a propaganda tour to boost the morale of his southern lackeys.

    NK PRIVATE – Understood. (Pause) Sergeant… do you know why a leader of the American Pig Dogs would appear in such a state of obvious discomfort? Do they not realise how undignified it makes them look?

    NK SERGEANT – (Thinks for a moment) It is because the food of the American Pig Dogs is stodgy and terrible, like everything about their cursed land. Their constant state of constipation makes them irritable and aggressive, one of the many reasons we must be constantly vigilant in case they decide to unleash war upon our peninsula once more.

    NK PRIVATE – Ahhh, good to know. (He raises his binoculars once more) He has returned inside. (He thinks for a moment and grins) No doubt to look for a toilet, so he can fruitlessly expend more effort in a futile attempt to void his swollen and clogged bowels.

    They laugh heartily.

    NK SERGEANT – Very good Private. Carry on.

    The NK Private continues his watch. A few moments pass.

    NK PRIVATE – (Thinking) Well that certainly broke up the day.


    • Ahuitzotl

      NK PRIVATE: Wait, they have that much food there. They have food there?

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