Ok, so Donald Trump fibbed a little.
Turns out the whole “armada” steaming towards North Korea thing wasn’t true.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the Navy confirmed on Tuesday that contrary to what Trump and his advisers said (or at least suggested), the USS Carl Vinson is actually thousands of miles away, off the coast of Australia and probably won’t be anywhere near the Korean Peninsula until next week.
Here’s a timeline from the Wall Street Journal that documents the confusion:
- April 8: Reuters prints story about the USS Carl Vinson’s change of mission directing it to the Western Pacific.
- April 10: U.S. Pacific Command posts a release: “Adm. Harry Harris, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, has directed the Carl Vinson Strike Group to sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific.”
- April 11: Navy officials say the Vinson will take part in planned exercises near Australia before proceeding to the western Pacific.
- April 11: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says that the exercises have been canceled.
- April 11: Shortly after Mr. Mattis’s remarks, Navy officials confirm port calls in Australia have been canceled, but that exercises haven’t been.
- April 12: President Donald Trump tweets that North Korea “is looking for trouble” and tells Fox Business Network that he is “sending an armada, very powerful.”
- April 18: U.S. Pacific Command statement: “The USS Carl Vinson Strike Group is proceeding to the Western Pacific as ordered. After departing Singapore on April 8 and canceling a scheduled port visit to Perth, the Strike Group was able to complete a curtailed period of previously scheduled training with Australia in international waters off the northwest coast of Australia. The Carl Vinson Strike Group is heading north to the Western Pacific as a prudent measure.”
Right, so basically by “we’re sending an armada [to North Korea], very powerful,” Trump actually meant, “some ships are in Singapore,” – but you know “tomato, tomahto.”
As for whether you can blame the Navy for Trump’s bombast, the answer is “no.” “We certainly did not say that,” a Navy official said Tuesday when asked if it had ever said the Vinson is headed to North Korea.
Still, VP Mike Pence wants America’s allies in the South Pacific to know that the full power of the US military is behind them. Specifically, Pence’s “sword stands ready” and he’ll pull it out if he has to:
— ABC News (@ABC) April 19, 2017
Here’s the full quotable which you’ll note begins with Pence telling some 2,500 sailors that Trump “seeks peace” and quickly devolves into Pence telling those same 2,500 sailors that Trump is fully prepared to nuke some shit.
The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready. Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response.