Experts Warn That Trump's Lies About North Korea Hurt America's Credibility

President Donald Trump shake hands after speaking at Snap-On Tools on April 18, 2017 in Wisconsin (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” President Donald Trump said over a week ago when asked about the tensions in North Korea. As it turns out, that “armada” wasn’t heading anywhere near North Korea. And sadly, some very important allies are now nervously laughing at Trump’s lies.

On April 10th, the US Pacific Command announced that the USS Carl Vinson had left Singapore on April 8th, and that rather than conduct planned exercises with Australia, would be heading for the Western Pacific. From there, things swirled out of control, and quickly. We now know that the USS Carl Vinson was nowhere near the Korean peninsula and was instead conducting exercises near Australia.


We know this because the US Navy posted a photo of the USS Carl Vinson fleet in Indonesia just a few days ago. It’s not expected to arrive near North Korea until later this month or maybe even next month. Who knows? We certainly don’t, after the Trump regime made Americans look like chumps.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Sunda Strait near Indonesia on April 14, 2017 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Released)

The White House let the world believe that the USS Carl Vinson was heading to South Korea when it wasn’t. And yet the Trump administration refuses to own up to the lie.

“The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That’s a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told the press yesterday.


But it’s not a fact. It’s a lie. A lie that’s incredibly embarrassing to watch:

And it’s a lie that has hurt credibility overseas. South Korea’s conservative party, which is staunchly pro-US and hopes to win during the upcoming elections on May 9th, even chimed in to say that, “If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.”


Again, this is coming from one of America’s best allies, not some fringe anti-American group.

“This seeming misrepresentation of the Carl Vinson strike group’s intended purpose in Asia really hurts US credibility on this issue and will make implementation of any sort of policy toward North Korea harder in the long run,” Jenny Town, Assistant Director of the US-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University, told Gizmodo.


The part that confounds experts is that this was completely unnecessary. If your goal is to promote peace, this isn’t how to do it.

“It was also unnecessarily inflammatory at a time when tensions were already high and counterproductive for trying to reassure our allies,” Town told Gizmodo. “The Trump administration needs to better understand that consistency in messaging is extremely important when dealing with sensitive geopolitical matters.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on April 19, 2017 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The South Korean papers are also having a field day with the lie, bolstering anti-American sentiment.


“Trump’s lie over the Carl Vinson,” the Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo’s headline declared yesterday according to the New York Times’ translation. “Xi Jinping and Putin must have had a good jeer over this one.”

“Like North Korea, which is often accused of displaying fake missiles during military parades, is the United States, too, now employing ‘bluffing’ as its North Korea policy?” the article continued.


The English-language Korea Herald was cautiously optimistic that Trump’s lies were simply the way he does business, but warned that such a style could accidentally send the region into war.

“Any sudden escalation in saber-rattling coupled with misleading statements could spawn a needless flare-up in tension and public anxiety,” the Korea Herald said. “And in a worst-case scenario, it may culminate in a miscalculation and armed clash, which no country, and no people in the world could afford.”

A man in Seoul, South Korea looks at posters showing candidates for presidential election on April 20, 2017 (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Experts on US-Japanese relations are also concerned. At this point it appears that Japan, a country with close military ties to the US, cooperated with the lie by simply staying mum.


“Whatever the case, whether it was deliberate misinformation or a miscommunication between the Pentagon and the White House, it’s quite serious,” said Narushige Michishita, a international security expert at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo told the New York Times. “It undermines the credibility of US leadership.”

The world stands on the brink of war, and it seems like the only thing saving us is the gross incompetence of both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Let’s just hope that their idiocy doesn’t also trip us into nuclear holocaust.


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Matt Novak

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog