The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.
The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.
A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:
“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”
The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.
The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.
The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.
“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”
The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.
“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.”
The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.
There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.
In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.
“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,
that thou didst shake the Earth.
O what a Day the Scriptures say,
the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;
O turn to God; lest by his Rod,
he cast thee down to Hell.”
Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”
There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.
Well, sort of.
In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”
On May 7, 2017, two days before Moon Jae-in’s historic election as South Korea’s president, I interviewed the former human-rights lawyer after he spoke to a campaign rally in Gwangju, the industrial city in Korea’s southwest famous for its 1980 citizens’ uprising against a US-backed military government.
Moon had just pledged to 2,000 cheering supporters gathered in front of the city’s high-speed rail station to “raise my voice loudly” to ensure that Seoul was in the lead in any dealings with North Korea. This was a reference to President Donald Trump, whose escalating rhetoric against North Korea was frightening Korean voters and had raised tensions in Asia to a boiling point.
As we sat down to talk in the stationmaster’s office, I asked Moon about the pundits and officials in Washington who were complaining about his pledge to continue the “Sunshine Policy” of his progressive predecessors, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. Was Moon concerned about predictions that his laser focus on engagement and dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would create fissures with the Trump administration and shake up the US-South Korean alliance?
His answer was an emphatic no. “I don’t agree,” Moon said, his face breaking into a wide smile. “To solve the North Korea nuclear problem is in both our common interests. If South Korea takes an active role, that would be helpful to the United States and would relieve the US burden.” Trump, he said, “would also sympathize with my idea and understand me on this issue.”
What I witnessed in that interview was the beginning of Moon’s months-long effort to seize control over the Korea crisis and turn it into a peace process that would ensure that the Korean people were protected from the outbreak of a second destructive war. Today, it’s clear that his gamble has paid off—big time—with one of the biggest political reversals in the history of US foreign policy: Trump’s momentous decision—after months of hair-raising confrontation—to meet face to face with the leader of North Korea, an unprecedented step for a sitting US president.
Moon’s words that day last spring were “prophetic and right on the mark, and he’s done exactly what he said,” says Joseph DeTrani, a former CIA analyst who was a US envoy for the “Six-Party Talks” during the Bush administration. Looking back, in an interview with The Nation, at the events that led up to Trump’s decision to meet with Kim, DeTrani said that “Moon Jae-in has not only taken the lead, he’s taken the lead and run with it in a very impressive way. He has handled this brilliantly.”
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, of course, claim that Moon’s success is due to the US “maximum pressure” campaign of military threats and sanctions. But that alone would not have brought Kim to the table, says Suzanne DiMaggio, a skilled negotiator with the New America Foundation who has been meeting with North Korean diplomats regularly in what’s called the “Track II” process. “The other major factor is the diplomatic heavy lifting and finessing done by President Moon and his colleagues to get us to this point,” she said.
The contours of Moon’s triumph became clear on March 8, when Chung Eui-yong, his national security adviser, announced on live television at the White House that Trump had accepted an invitation—conveyed by North Korea through Moon’s representatives during two days of meetings in Pyongyang—to meet with Kim sometime in May.
As recounted by Chung to the gathered reporters, Kim Jong-un told South Korea that “he is committed to denuclearization. He pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests. He understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue. And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.” Both South and North Korea were surprised by how quickly Trump accepted the invitation, according to people who have talked to both governments.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha affirmed Kim’s promises during a visit to Washington this week. Kim Jong-un “has given his word” on discussing denuclearization, she toldFace the Nation last Sunday. “This is the first time that the words came directly from the North Korean supreme leader himself, and that has never been done before.”
The Trump administration, however, rejects any notion that it has accepted such a swap. Just after the summit was announced, CIA director Mike Pompeo said that Washington had made no concessions to get the meeting, pointing to the fact Kim has “allowed us to continue our exercises on the peninsula, something that’s been fought over for decades.”
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, announced that the first exercises, called Foal Eagle, will begin April 1, but they didn’t release any details about timing or how many troops will be mobilized.
Instead, Korean officials, speaking on background in South Korea, confirmed that the exercises will be low-key: According to AP, there are “no immediate plans to bring in American strategic assets.” This is clearly a concession, despite Pompeo’s denial and the strange decisions by US media not to report the Korean caveats (the contrast between US and South Korean coverage of the exercises is striking).
On Wednesday, meanwhile, North Korea finally acknowledged what it called “a sign of change” in US-North Korean relations, attributing it to “the dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation [that] has been created in relations between the north and the south of Korea,” according to official statements quoted in NK News. The US press, in contrast, has moved on from the Trump-Kim summit, with even the usual hawkish voices staying quiet. That’s left the South Korean media to cover the results of the extraordinary process unfolding in Northeast Asia.
There were several turning points in Moon’s quest to place South Korea, as he has said, “in the driver’s seat.” One came last August, when he bluntly warned Trump against embarking on a unilateral military strike against North Korea, which he and most Koreans know would immediately wreak havoc on the south and throughout the peninsula. “No one shall take a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean consent,” he said in an emotional statement.
The other came last December, after North Korea tested its second hydrogen bomb and successfully launched a Hwasong-15 rocket, its most powerful so far, an ICBM capable of hitting targets in the United States. That month, Kim declared that North Korea had completed its “state nuclear force.” He then passed word through his diplomats that this meant that North Korea was ready to stop its testing altogether, even before it had succeeded in fitting a nuclear warhead to a missile capable of re-entry into the atmosphere and hitting a target.
“The interesting thing is, they stopped short of completing an ICBM and a reliable thermo-nuclear warhead,” says Leon Sigal, a former State Department official and editorial writer for The New York Times who wrote a history of the 1994 nuclear crisis called Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. In the deal they’ve agreed to, he said in an interview, “they’ve given us a suspension of their nuclear and missile programs, which is not trivial because they were on the cusp of having” a reliable nuclear weapon system, he says. “We got something, and they got something.”
Kim’s declaration “was a significant achievement in their eyes,” DiMaggio told me. “Now they can come to the table with maximum negotiating strength, so the timing for engagement now makes complete sense.”
The final step came when the Trump administration dropped its preconditions for talks, which had included a cessation of testing and a prior commitment to denuclearize. That was communicated privately and then publicly shortly before Moon’s Olympic diplomacy, said Sigal, who, like DiMaggio, has been a key player in Track II talks with North Korea. “They were ready [to talk] when we dropped our preconditions,” he said.
The deal for a summit was supposed to be sealed by a meeting in Seoul between Vice President Mike Pence and his advisers with Kim Yo-jong, Kim’s sister, during the Olympics. But Pence’s boorish and arrogant behavior convinced the North to cancel two hours before it was to begin. Later, Ivanka Trump was accompanied in a trip to Seoul by Allison Hooker, the director of Korean affairs at the National Security Council, but a scheduled meeting between Hooker and a North Korean deputy never materialized. “That was a missed opportunity on both fronts,” said Sigal.
After this, of course, came Moon Jae-in’s spectacular diplomacy with Kim Jong-un’s representatives in Seoul, and the agreement in Pyongyang for Moon and Kim to hold the third intra-Korean summit in April at the truce village of Panmunjom, to be followed by the unprecedented summit between Kim and Trump. Moon’s approval rating among South Koreans is now hovering at 74 percent, “thanks to positive views of his handling of relations with North Korea,” the Yonhap News Agency reports.
To be sure, the outcome of any Trump-Kim summit is far from certain and will require an unprecedented system of verification if North Korea does in fact agree to eventually give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for a normal, and peaceful, relationship with the United States. “That’s a steep mountain to climb,” former Secretary of Defense William Perry, who led US negotiations with North Korea in the 1990s, told a Washington conference last week.
Last week, President Trump appeared to throw a monkey wrench into the negotiating process when he fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had been in charge of the administration’s diplomatic approach to North Korea, and replaced him with the more hawkish Pompeo. On March 11, even before the switch was announced, Pompeo confirmed that Trump “has indicated he’s prepared to go have an initial discussion on this incredibly important topic and we’re preparing for that time.”
But the CIA chief’s assurances were not enough for the media, which reacted to the initial news of a Trump-Kim summit with horror and disbelief. After finally getting used to the idea that Trump was committed and was going, reporters became obsessed about the fact that, a week after Chung’s momentous announcement at the White House, North Korea had yet to respond publicly to the offer.
The “silence,” the Times speculated, citing Jung Park, a former CIA analyst at the Brookings Institution, has “raised suspicions” among experts as to whether Kim “really made the offer.” That meme was soon repeated on MSNBC, where North Korea missile analyst Jeffrey Lewistold news-host Chris Hayes that he was suspicious about South Korea’s assurances because they were made at a “boozy” meeting in Pyongyang between Moon’s representatives and Kim Jong-un.
Sigal, who has extensive contacts on both sides of the DMZ, attributed North Korea’s public silence in part to the closure of the “New York channel” this month when Joseph Yun, the US diplomat who has been leading low-level US talks with Pyongyang through its UN Mission in New York, abruptly resigned from his post. The North Koreans “haven’t confirmed their position because we haven’t sent a clear message to them of our intent through the working-level New York channel or any other official bilateral channel,” Sigal said. Beyond that, “the press has been utterly uninterested in the negotiating side of the story,” he added. “They love the war story.”
DiMaggio, for her part, doubted that President Moon would risk his reputation and presidency on a false promise he had not confirmed with his northern counterparts. “My sense of how the South Koreans are approaching this is they are being quite cautious and disciplined,” she told me. “I don’t think they would relay any messages that didn’t actually happen.”
On the other hand, she was concerned that Pompeo’s elevation to secretary of state could signal that Trump’s impulses will be given full rein as he prepares to meet with Kim, and could put Moon’s carefully planned diplomatic offensive at risk. “It’s clear he’s skeptical of any diplomatic approach,” she said.
“That, combined with his lack of negotiating experience, points to what I would call rough waters ahead. As the nation’s chief diplomat, she added, Pompeo will face a “steep learning curve, especially when you compare him to his counterpart in Pyongyang,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, “who is a very seasoned diplomat and a US expert with years of experience.”
DiMaggio, who was deeply involved as an observer at the US talks with Iran over its nuclear program, said the lack of experience could hurt as the talks proceed. “One concern I have is if the administration would move forward with talks and handle them poorly, and then announce them as a failure. That could potentially open the way to a military action after diplomacy is deemed a failed proposition. That scenario really worries me.”
Meanwhile, convinced of North Korea’s seriousness, the Moon government is quickly setting up the foreign-policy apparatus for negotiations and organizing simultaneous talks on resolving the standoff with China, Japan, and Russia. In addition, North Korea sent Foreign Minister Ri this week to Sweden, which represents US interests in Pyongyang, and a second diplomat to Finland to meet with a group of former US and South Korean officials (Finland’s government said Wednesday the talks were “constructive.”) There was speculation that Ri’s talks in Sweden could lead to North Korea’s release of three Americans still held in prison, but by mid-week that had yet to happen.
Looking back over the past year, Pompeo’s emergence as Trump’s key player in North Korean affairs seems inevitable—in part because he has already been playing that role for months.
In 2017, about a week after Moon was sworn in as president, the CIA set up a Korea Mission Center that integrates officers from across the agency to “bring their expertise and creativity to bear against the North Korea target” (intelligence contractors like CACI are busy recruiting to fill the spots). Unusually for a CIA center, it has been fairly open in its work, with Pompeo and the top deputies of the center appearing as speakers at public events, including an academic conference in Washington last October. In contrast, Tillerson spoke little in public about Korea, except in brief interviews with the press.
Pompeo also “became more active in the CIA’s Daily Briefs where he’s personally briefing the president,” said DeTrani, the former intelligence officer. “So I think it makes eminent sense that he would be the point person on what is going on with North Korea.” Moreover, when the talks get to a stage where verification of a testing moratorium and other steps is required, US intelligence assets controlled by the CIA and the National Security Agency will be crucial, he said.
I was convinced that Pompeo was in command on January 23, when he delivered a public speech at the American Enterprise Institute and spent most of his time talking—and answering questions—about North Korea. It was one of the most detailed administration speeches yet on Korea and, to a careful listener, signaled that the Trump administration had thoroughly grasped the significance of Kim Jong-un’s confirmation that he had completed development of his nuclear program and would no longer be testing.
“The logical next step [for Kim] would be to develop an arsenal of weapons” that would have “the capacity to deliver from multiple firings of these missiles simultaneously,” Pompeo said. “That’s the very mission set that President Trump has directed the government to figure out a way to make sure it never occurs.” He added: “The president is intent on delivering this solution through diplomatic means. It is the focus.”
In what had to be a carefully controlled leak, last Friday the Times confirmed that Pompeo has been in close contact with North Korea “through a channel that runs between the C.I.A. and its North Korean counterpart, the Reconnaissance General Bureau,” which combines the country’s formidable intelligence and special forces.
Pompeo, the Times said, is also working closely with Suh Hoon, the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), who was in Pyongyang with Chung Eui-yong, the national security adviser. As a deputy NIS director earlier in the century, Suh lent important support to the Sunshine Policy and helped organize, with North Korean intelligence, the previous summits in 2000 and 2007 (Moon was in Pyongyang for the last one, as President Roh’s chief of staff).
Suh’s counterpart and primary host in Pyongyang was Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party and the former head of the spy agency who now oversees Pyongyang’s relationship with South Korea. He was also Kim Jong-un’s delegate in Pyeongchang for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics and, most significantly, was the official who told Moon that the North was willing to have parallel negotiations with the United States.
“He’s a [Workers’] party guy, and has done some bad things in the past,” says Sigal, referring to Kim Yong-chol. According to the South Korean government, in 2010 Kim Yong-chol masterminded the attack and sinking of a South Korean naval vessel that killed 46 sailors and brought North-South relations to an all-time low (North Korea denied involvement, and some Koreans have raised doubts about Kim Yong-chol’s involvement).
Even so, says Sigal, he is one of the best-informed North Koreans on the United States. “People don’t know he was involved with the military-to-military talks with us and the South Koreans” during the Bush administration, said Sigal. “He has a long history of knowledge about the US.”
Joel Wit, a former US negotiator on the 1994 Agreed Framework, told a Monday press briefing at the US-Korea Institute that the CIA’s channel to North Korean intelligence has existed with “ongoing contacts” since 2009, including visits to North Korea by intelligence officials in 2012 and in 2014 by James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence.
Kim Yong-chol “has been the main contact in this channel for much of the time,” he said. But Wit, who participates with DiMaggio in the Track II talks with North Korean diplomats, cautioned that intelligence channels are “not ideal” and have “serious drawbacks,” compared with diplomacy. “You can’t just send some intelligence analysts off to meet with North Koreans and think that that’s going to work well,” he warned.
Despite the dominance of the spies, the negotiators past and present I spoke to were all optimistic that Trump could develop a framework for further negotiations, leading down the road to disarmament talks that would allow North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons.
And while they worried about the short time span before the summit and the lack of preparation on the US side, they said there were plenty of past US-North Korean formulations to rely on as precedents. They include declarations about denuclearization, respect for sovereignty, and economic and political normalization made jointly in 1994 and 2000, and the broader Six-Party declaration in 2005.
Most of all, they argue that Trump has a fundamental interest in testing North Korea’s resolve. “To the extent the North Koreans want a fundamentally new relationship with the United States, they’re prepared to do things,” Sigal said. “And that’s got to be tested. And the only way to test it is, you make offers at the negotiating table, see if they take them, live up to your end of the deal, and see if they live up.”
“All these people who think they know what the North Koreans are going to do,” he concluded with a laugh, “have no clue!”
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), adopted in October 2015, removed sanctions against Tehran in exchange for placing strict limits on its nuclear program. To Trump, it was a “one-sided transaction” whose billions of dollars in lifted sanctions and direct payments enables a dictatorship to better fund its regional adventurism and terrorist proxies. Then there are the deal’s sunset provisions, which remove certain restrictions after 10-15 years. “What is the purpose of a deal that, at best, only delays Iran’s nuclear capability for a short period of time?” he asked in October.
In January, Trump announced that if the deal’s eight signatories couldn’t amend it to his liking by an arbitrary deadline of May 12, the United States would walk away. The intent, no doubt, was to confront the terror-supporting autocrats with alacrity, rather than with what he saw as his predecessor’s reticence. But changing a multi-lateral international agreement takes time, and this ultimatum leaves U.S., European, Russian, and Chinese diplomats little of that. In all likelihood, as Trump surrounds himself with hawkish voices like Mike Pompeo for secretary of state and Bolton, who has called for pre-emptively attacking Iran and engineering a regime change there, the president is preparing not for a signing ceremony, but for a walkout.
Few consider the Iran deal flawless. Because the lifting of arms embargoes under the deal are time-based and not condition-based, there is nothing stopping Iran from fully complying with the deal until it expires and then developing a nuclear arsenal.
Yet it’s easier to resolve this issue inside the contours of the JCPOA than outside it. Once America walks away and the deal collapses, Iran will be able to reconstitute its nuclear program—and without the presence of an intrusive inspections regime. Non-proliferation experts insist that Iran would then likely reboot its nuclear program not in its old declared facilities, but in other, unfamiliar locations. Leaving the deal, therefore, “would not only make the prospect of Iran developing a bomb in secret more likely,” said Colin Kahl, a former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, “but it would make military action to foreclose that possibility less effective, because if you don’t know where all the targets are, you can’t destroy them.”
Nor would a military option, regardless of timing or what sort of diplomatic tangles preceded it, necessarily be effective. In March 2015, John Bolton wrote an op-ed for The New York Times titled, “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran.” That chiasmus represents an idée fixe of the hawkish right: that a preventive war with Iran would lead to its permanent de-nuclearization. Yet the record on this is by no means clear. In fact, the evidence in the historical case study much of this rhetoric is based on has shifted considerably in recent decades.
The alarming conclusion some experts have now come to is that, far from halting Iraq’s nuclear progress, Israel’s action accelerated it. All that kept Hussein from having a nuclear bomb by the mid-1990s, therefore, was his decision to invade Kuwait. Military action, Kahl told me, “really convinces these regimes that their only shot to prevent this from happening again is to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Bolton’s ascendance to the West Wing is a troubling development in the saga of trying to keep Iran from going nuclear. Disdainful of diplomacyand reportedly both clever and relentless by nature, Bolton advocated for the 2003 invasion of Iraq—the very conflict that gave Iran the leverage it had during recent negotiations with world powers. Tehran knew that Obama did not want to embroil the U.S. in another costly and chaotic Middle East war.
But Trump is plagued by scandals and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s intensifying investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia. Cynically put, there may well be political advantage in escalating tensions and projecting himself as a tough leader. The same could apply to Netanyahu, who is currently under investigation on corruption charges in Israel.
There is no perfect solution to the Iranian challenge. The nuclear deal did not moderate Iranian behavior—its regime has continued to test ballistic missiles and foment violence in Syria and Iraq—but it has so far kept Iran away from near-term weapons capabilities.
When debate over the deal was at its near apex, Obama declared that his legacy would depend on whether his strategy for curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions was successful. “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing,” he told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg in May 2015. “If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.” But if Trump pulls out of the accord, accelerating Iran’s nuclear development, that bomb will have Trump’s name on it instead.
Mr Hussain appeared eager for a resolution with Islamabad’s South Asian neighbour – he suggested the region of Kashmir was in need of “self-determination”.
He explained: “The only solution to the dispute of Kashmir is to provide the right of self-determination to Kashmiris, and Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard.”The President added that Pakistan was willing to cooperate with regional countries.
However, the leader issued the nuclear-armed India with a stark warning that the promises of cooperation should not be taken as weakness.
Mr Hussain said: “Taking it as a weakness will be a dangerous mistake.”
As tensions with India continue to mount, the Pakistan President insisted the nuclear-armed nation’s foreign policy is about “achieving peace”.He went on: “Pakistan’s foreign policy was about achieving permanent peace in the world and is based on non-interference into internal issues of other countries.”
Pakistan Day, held on March 23, celebrates the passing of the Lahore Resolution on the same date in 1940.
The resolution asked for greater Muslim autonomy in then British India, however most people saw this as a demand for a separate Muslim state.
Pakistan’s army was recently accused of colluding with terrorists by an activist that labelled the devastating force as “radicalised”.Nadeem Nusrat, an activist from Pakistan, declared the military had been “supporting jihadist groups”.
He commented: “In last few decades, Pakistani Army has become radicalised and has been supporting jihadist groups to attack minorities and activists in the country.
GettyThe President added that Pakistan was willing to cooperate with regional countries
“The providers and facilitators of terror sanctuaries in Pakistan must be held accountable by the UN and all peace-loving nations.”Mr Nusrat also roasted the army for relying on “hostility with India” to justify its existence.
GettyPakistan’s army was recently accused of colluding with terrorists
“Once you take this away from the equation, it will be difficult for Pakistan army to justify its existence.”Conflict between India and Pakistan along the LoC has become frighteningly frequent – both sides have violated the agreed ceasefire in the area.
The constant fighting has led many to speculate whether an all-out war is possible between the two.
But George W. Bush’s war cabinet was responding to the biggest direct attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor. The current moment of peril arises from Mr. Trump’s conviction that the United States is being pushed around by adversaries who need to understand that “America First” means they have a brief window to negotiate a deal, or force may follow.
Now, the members of Mr. Trump’s newly constituted team are about to face multiple, simultaneous tests of their past proclamations and sometimes conflicting instincts. North Korea and Iran pose the most immediate challenge, with Mr. Trump setting negotiation deadlines that are only months away.
Over the longer term, they must straighten out the strategic incoherence surrounding Mr. Trump’s approach to Russia and China, defining the meaning of the administration’s policy declaration earlier this year that “great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”
Washington is now consumed by a debate over whether Mr. Trump’s new team plans to govern as far to the right as it talks.
So far, the incoming national security adviser, John R. Bolton, has declared that his past comments are “behind me.” Hours after his selection was announced, Mr. Bolton vowed that he would find ways to execute the policies that Mr. Trump was elected on, but that he would not tolerate slow-walking and leaks from bureaucrats he dismissed as “munchkins.”
Some who know Mr. Bolton and his operating style predict titanic clashes.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the retired general who has argued for keeping the Iran deal intact and warned that military confrontation with North Korea would result in “the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” told colleagues on Friday that he did not know if he could work with Mr. Bolton. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, another retired four-star general, was also unenthusiastic about Mr. Bolton’s hiring.
“John Bolton is not some gray bureaucrat whose views are unknown to us,” said Michael McFaul, the American ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama, and now a Stanford professor and the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
But others who have worked for years with Mr. Bolton argue that Mr. Trump knows exactly what he is getting: leverage, not conflict.
“I think this notion everybody talks about, that the risks of war have gone up, is wrong,” said Stephen J. Hadley, who was Mr. Bush’s national security adviser and a major architect of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. “This is the peace-through-strength crowd who want to make clear to people that they’re tough and that no one should cross them. But the reason for that is to deter war.”
Dov Zakheim, a former senior Defense Department official who has known Mr. Bolton for 35 years, wrote on Friday that Mr. Bolton “may be a fire breather, but he is a man who cares deeply about his country,” in comparison to his boss, who “cares deeply about Donald Trump.”
Whatever Mr. Trump’s motives, his selection of this team would have been hard to imagine when he first came to office declaring that the continued American presence in Iraq was a “disaster,” that he was comfortable with Japan and South Korea getting their own nuclear weapons so the United States would not have to defend them, and that America would no longer be the world’s policeman.
Mike Pompeo, the nominee for secretary of state, said at the Aspen Security Conference in July that the most dangerous thing about North Korea was the fact that its young, moody and reportedly ruthless leader, Kim Jong-un, controls its weapons.
“So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right?” said Mr. Pompeo, who at the time was months into his current job as C.I.A. director. “Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent, and break those two apart.”
Assuming that Mr. Pompeo is confirmed, he and Mr. Bolton, the two most forceful, aggressive new members of the policy team, will have to decide in what order they can risk those confrontations. The Trump administration has said it is open to direct talks with Mr. Kim by May — the same month by which the president has said he will scrap the Iran nuclear accord.
“Even if you are going to be a superhawk, you can’t do all these at once,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former C.I.A. station chief in Moscow who later hunted down Pakistani nuclear technology as the Energy Department’s chief intelligence officer. “And if you want to go to war with Iran and North Korea, you have to expect to alienate your allies and run headlong into the Russians.”
William J. Burns, a longtime American diplomat who was Mr. Bush’s ambassador to Russia and Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state, predicted that if the new team exits the Iran deal and confronts North Korea, the first beneficiary is likely to be President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
“He looks for splits,” Mr. Burns said of Mr. Putin. “He knows he will benefit if we walk away from the Iran deal, because it will put a wedge between us and our European allies.”
On North Korea, Mr. Burns said, Mr. Putin is seeking “splits between the U.S. and China. We are doing his work for him.”
In fact, it is in dealing with Mr. Putin that the new team is likely to run headlong into Mr. Trump’s reluctance to ever say a critical word about the Russian president. As C.I.A. chief, Mr. Pompeo has embraced the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the election, though he changes the subject quickly when asked about it.
Mr. Bolton, by contrast, has ranked among Mr. Putin’s harshest critics. Last July, days after Mr. Trump met Mr. Putin for the first time at a summit meeting in Germany, Mr. Bolton wrote that the Russian interference in the 2016 election was “a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate.”
Mr. Trump did not view it that way.
He emerged from the meeting in Germany repeating Mr. Putin’s observation that the Russians were too skilled at cyberoperations to be caught if involved. Last week, Mr. Trump called Mr. Putin to congratulate him on winning a Russian election widely viewed as a sham, making no mention of the recent nerve-agent attack that Britain concluded, with American agreement, was a covert action by Moscow.
If it was, it was being planned out as Mr. Pompeo was acting as the host to the directors of the three major Russian intelligence services in Washington earlier this month.
The unknown factor in the new mix is Gina Haspel, the career intelligence officer who has been nominated to be the first woman to run the C.I.A. Since she has spent much of her career undercover — details of which the agency is just beginning to release, in an effort to lobby for her confirmation — her foreign policy views are largely unknown.
But her record in the terrorist detentions and interrogations following 9/11 is well documented. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was tortured as a prisoner of war, this past week pointedly asked in a letter to Ms. Haspel, “Do you believe actions like these were justified, and do you believe they produced actionable intelligence?”
At a moment when Mr. Trump has sided with the economic nationalists in his administration and ordered the imposition of tariffs on China to counter its restrictions on American companies and the forced transfer of American intellectual property, Mr. Bolton has gone one further.
He has questioned whether the United States should abandon the “One China” policy that has been the underpinning of relations since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations.
In 2016, Mr. Bolton wrote that confronting China “may involve modifying or even jettisoning the ambiguous ‘One China’ mantra, along with even more far-reaching initiatives to counter Beijing’s rapidly accelerating political and military aggressiveness in the South and East China Seas.”
It is unclear how that squares with Mr. Trump’s campaign argument that the United States should pull its forces back from Asia unless South Korea and Japan pay more of the cost of keeping them there.
If Washington breaches the deal, Iran may declare it is now free to resume producing nuclear fuel in unlimited quantities — limits it agreed to, for 15 years, in return for economic normalization. If so, that could put the United States and Israel back where they were in the years before the accord was reached: threatening military action to destroy Iran’s facilities, even at the risk of another Middle East war. That was the path Mr. Bolton advocated.
In August, when Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Mattis wrote a joint op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal describing the merits of building economic pressure on North Korea in a policy of “strategic accountability,” Mr. Bolton said he was “appalled.”
“Time is not a neutral factor here,” he said on Fox News, where he was a contributor. “More negotiation with North Korea? I think they’d say ‘bring it on.’ More time to increase the size and scope of their ballistic missile and nuclear capabilities.” He will now be preparing Mr. Trump for that negotiation.