A couple of days ago, as North Korea was parading it’s latest missiles, Donald Trump announced that he had sent “an armada” to the Sea of Japan as a clear signal that “we are strong” and “not to be played with.” Others in the government described it as a large strike force (the Carl Vinson and three other warships) steaming to positions in striking distance of North Korea. Coverage of all this was widespread in the country and throughout the world. Some cheered at its boldness, some worried about what it might mean, and many prayed.
The press pushed for more from the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Advisor, and the Press Secretary. All sang from the same music sheet and all confirmed the story, adding useless detail.
The only problem was that it was a story and not true. The “armada” was nowhere near the Sea of Japan. Indeed, there was no American war ship or even row boat in striking distance of North Korea. Instead, the Vinson was and always had been off the coast of Indonesia, thousands of miles from the Korean Peninsula. The President’s strike force had been streaming south, not north the entire time.
This is, of course, not very funny. In fact, there is no comparable example of anything like this throughout American history. Never before had an American President made a public statement of this kind, only to learn later that it was a total fabrication. It is mind numbing to think that the President and his people could have been so wrong or, worse, could have been playing so carelessly with its credibility and with a very dangerous and rogue nation.
How we, as a nation and world power, recover from this is hard to see. Clearly friend and foe alike will wonder about the next and the next pronouncement from the American government. This event has caused nothing short of a major erosion of confidence in America and the credibility of it leaders.