Baby boomers like me fondly remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of childhood (and adulthood, for that matter — in their grown-up jokes and cultural references they presaged The Simpsons by a good 25 years and are still pretty hilarious).
You may particularly recall one Rocky and Bullwinkle character, Capt. Peter “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz, an addled mariner so spectacular in his incompetence that even his toy boats sank in the bathtub.
At one point, Peachfuzz managed to steer his ship into New York’s financial district — and I mean into, so much so that it was given the permanent address of 17 ½ Wall Street. Now at the helm of an investment firm, his board of directors wanted to get Capt.
Peachfuzz as far away as possible and found him a job counting penguin eggs in Antarctica. But a secretary mistyped the form and Peachfuzz was made head of the nation’s intelligence community.
When life starts imitating cartoons you know you’re in trouble, except that Donald “Wrong Way” Trump isn’t accidentally head of central intelligence, he’s the president of the United States and may God have mercy on our souls.
You can see where I’m going with this. When life starts imitating cartoons you know you’re in trouble, except that Donald “Wrong Way” Trump isn’t accidentally head of central intelligence, he’s the president of the United States and may God have mercy on our souls.
The nautical reference is especially appropriate, of course, with “Wrong Way” Trump’s announcement last week that “an armada, very powerful” was headed toward North Korea in response to that nation’s growing nuclear threat.
In fact, that “armada,” the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and a Navy strike group, was heading in the opposite direction, toward Australia — meaning, as my friend Jeremy said, that the ships were prepared, if North Korea made the wrong move, to attack Melbourne.
Apparently, the confusion began with an April 9 announcement from the US Pacific Command and was amplified by statements from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and other military officials before Trump spoke out. But as The Washington Post noted:
“…the perception of a carrier strike group steaming toward North Korea at a time of swiftly escalating tension also served the interests of Trump and his top advisers, who were keen to send a deterrent message to Pyongyang and illustrate its break with the policies of former president Barack Obama.”
Having wrapped up maneuvers in the Indian Ocean, the ships now are turned around and finally heading toward the Korean peninsula.
At least that’s what White House press secretary Sean Spicer says, so you can take that to the bank! But the incident serves to illustrate the rudderless incoherence of the Trump administration and the lack of even the inkling of a cogent foreign or defense policy.
“Wrong Way” Peach fuzz could have done no worse.
In recent days, we’ve heard inconsistent policy statements, and not just about where the hell our ships are.
There have been flip-flops on China and Russia as well as conflicting declarations when it comes to President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality in Syria and the contested referendum in Turkey that by a narrow margin gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
increased dictatorial control over his government. Trump called to heartily congratulate Erdogan on his win, yet at the same time the State Department warned the Turkish leader against ignoring the “rule of law” and urged him to respect “a diverse and free media.”