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Silver Lining in Trump’s Naval Strike Force Lie

North Korea Donald Trump Secretary Mattis Ernie Ernest Canning

USS Carl Vinson

Last week, the world was on edge. As we observed, a combination of the Trump administration’s first strike threats and his boast that he had ordered an “armada” that included the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, to waters near the Korean peninsula amounted to a dangerous game of brinksmanship that could potentially trigger a nuclear war.

Turns out, the whole thing was a ploy. The naval strike force, at that time, was 3,500 miles southwest of Korea, moving not towards but  away from the Korean peninsula.

This stark discrepancy was not, as suggested by The Atlantic‘s David Graham, the product of “a communications failure inside the executive branch.” The administration did not “lose an aircraft carrier.”

The false report on the heading of the strike force didn’t just come from the White House. Those taking part in the hoax, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, included Defense Secretary James N. Mattis (ship “on her way up there”) and Admiral Harry Harris, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command. It is simply absurd to speculate that the Department of Defense and the Navy lost track of the location or heading of an entire naval strike force.

The only reasonable explanation is that the same Commander-in-Chief, whom the L.A. Times aptly described as “our dishonest President,” ordered those below him in the chain-of-command to take part in an elaborate hoax — a hoax that had little prospect of success given the likelihood that a nuclear-armed North Korea has the technology needed to determine whether a naval strike force had entered waters off its coast.

It is therefore highly unlikely that anyone with half-a-brain in that chain of command actually believed that this false bravado would have cowed a mentally deranged North Korean dictator to abandon his nation’s nuclear capacity.  Instead, it is likely that the raging narcissist in the White House sought to garner further praise from fawning media pundits, who irresponsibly described his ill-conceived and unconstitutional Syria strike as “presidential.”

Whatever the motivation, the revelation that the strike force had never been sent in the direction of the Korean peninsula has exposed Trump to be a paper tiger. While that doesn’t bode well for his international credibility, it is comforting to know that we are not as close to a nuclear catastrophe as the idiot in the White House had led us to believe.

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Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing