Kim Jong-un was right to be cheerful while celebrating the 105th birth anniversary of the nation’s founding president, Kim Il-sung. He was right to be laughing his head off at U.S. commander-in-chief’s threat of a “sudden strike” on the Hermit Kingdom. Turns out, he was absolutely right to call Trump bluff by challenging the U.S. superpower to a war.
Here’s the bad news, great news and amazing news. First, the bad news – people who have been betting their money on a financial markets collapse are set to lose their money. The great news – a Korean War, let alone a Nuclear War, isn’t happening. Now, here’s the amazing news – the U.S. naval “armada” scheduled to Korean Peninsula had gone to the wrong place.
In fact, the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG1) led by nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the same strike force sent earlier to South China Sea to intimidate China, is some 3,500 miles in the opposite direction. More than 10 days ago on April 8, President Donald Trump proudly announced to the world about the deployment of the U.S. super carrier.
The commander-in-chief said – “We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you.” Even Defence Secretary James Mattis, a former U.S. general known as “Mad Dog”, told reporters on April 11 that the Carl Vinson was “on her way up there.”
Subsequently, the Western media went into overdrive that the armada was “steaming” toward North Korea. The media even illustrated how the U.S. powerful naval armada would carry a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. People obsessed with U.S. military strength quickly mocked brutal dictator Kim Jong-un to pray before the global superpower hits him.
Carl Vinson and an accompanying strike group were supposed to leave Singapore and head to the Western Pacific. Heck, Trump has even raised his stakes by planning to send two more aircraft carriers – the Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz – to the Korean Peninsula. But after days of waiting, there were no sight of super-carrier Carl Vinson.
A photograph released by the U.S. navy showed the aircraft carrier sailing through the calm waters of Sunda Strait between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java on Saturday, April 15. Carl Vinson was actually leading the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain in the Indian Ocean instead.
The news that the ships weren’t where everyone assumed them to be was greeted with some laughter in the Chinese media today. The Global Times exclaims – “Tricked badly! None of the U.S. aircraft carriers that South Korea is desperately waiting for has come!” Well, at least Donald Trump has proven once again that he’s an awesome entertainer.
To cover the screw-up, Trump administration blamed it on a miscommunication between the White House and the Pentagon. U.S. military officials said the strike group would first complete a previously scheduled military exercise with the Australian navy. But it was Secretary of Defence James Mattis himself who told reporters last week that the exercises had been cancelled.
Apparently, US defence officials said that Mattis had misunderstood and that it was a “port visit” in Australia that was cancelled to allow for the group’s redeployment to the waters near the Korean Peninsula. Still, the fact that Admiral Harris had initially chosen to complete a naval exercise with Australian navy prior to sailing to Korean Peninsula means one thing.
It simply means the mission to North Korea wasn’t critical that it should be taken seriously. This also means there wasn’t any plan for a sudden pre-emptive strike on North Korea at all. After a week of war drums, fuelled by the reports of the oncoming armada, tensions subsided when the weekend passed with only a military parade in Pyongyang and a failed missile test.
Analysts now believe it was all part of “psychological warfare or bluffing” by the United States. Had the photograph not posted online, Carl Vinson might have proceeded to finish its naval exercise with Australian navy in the Indian Ocean, allowing the tension in the area to die a natural death. Now that Trump administration is humiliated by the photo leak, Vinson is finally on its way to Korea.
Kim Jong-un now has until end of the month (new schedule says April 25) to test his military gadgets before the arrival of the fearsome aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. It’s unknown, however, if Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz, two other carriers speculated to be joining Vinson as a “show of force” in the Korean Peninsula would make their appearance at all.
The Japan-based carrier Reagan, in actual fact, is in a maintenance period at Yokosuka and will not be completed to sail until in May. Washington-based Nimitz and her strike group, meanwhile, are off Southern California, nearing the completion of its major pre-deployment exercise. Nimitz is scheduled to deploy this spring to relieve the Vinson in the Western Pacific.