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Resolve McResolveyFace

[ 102 ] April 21, 2017 |
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.


Comments (102)

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  1. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    “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.”

  2. C.V. Danes says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

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

          • BruceJ says:

            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…

  3. Malaclypse says:

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

  4. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    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

  5. CP says:

    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.

  6. CP says:

    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.

  7. rea says:

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

  8. Steven desJardins says:

    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.

  9. Shakezula says:

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

  10. Sifu Snafu says:

    Anybody else notice that he looks like Cotton Hill?

  11. cleek says:

    so, what are all the little white arrows for?

    • rhino says:

      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 says:

      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.

  12. Crusty says:

    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 says:

      “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.

    • VCarlson says:

      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.

  13. Aimai says:

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

  14. randy khan says:

    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.

  15. Hells Littlest Angel says:

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

  16. D.N. Nation says:

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

  17. Todd says:

    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.

  18. Deggjr says:

    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.

  19. Rob in CT says:

    These fuckin’ guys.

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


    Behold the hairless ape in all his glory.

  20. Mike Furlan says:

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

  21. Murc says:

    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?

  22. liberal says:

    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.

  23. Woodrowfan says:

    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!”

  24. Yankee says:

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

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

  26. Murc says:

    … is that Agent Smith in the background?

  27. bob333 says:

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

  28. Aaron Morrow says:

    “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.”

  29. Pseudonym says:

    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.

  30. Mike G says:

    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.”

  31. Daragh says:

    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.


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