Wineke: Losing an aircraft carrier is no way to project strength

In the last couple of days we have learned that the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, which our government told us was on its way toward North Korea, was actually headed in the opposite direction.

Who in the government told us the Vinson was going to Korea? Among others, the president, the secretary of defense, the national security adviser…need I go on? They said the United States was projecting a show of force. President Donald Trump even said we were sending an “armada” to show North Korea who is boss.

Then the New York Times printed a photo of the giant ship heading toward Australia, which is not anywhere near the Korean Peninsula.

Oops. It appears the top echelon of our government “misspoke.” It turns out the aircraft carrier group was actually heading toward a naval exercise with the Australian navy but is now headed toward Korea.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied his boss had been misleading, it just didn’t tell the whole story.

“The statement was put out that the Carl Vinson group was headed toward the Korean Peninsula. It is headed toward the Korean Peninsula.”

Well, yes. But given the fact that North Korea was shooting off a big missile and lots of people were hoping World War III was not going to explode over the weekend and, given the fact that no one in Washington was contradicting the press reports — the top leaders seemed, rather, to be confirming them — isn’t this kind of a crazy way to conduct foreign policy?

Or is it possible that our top leaders actually didn’t know where the “armada” was?

How would you like to be the captain of the Carl Vinson calling your commanding officer and saying, “Sir, we aren’t actually in Korea; we’re in Australia?”

In the meantime, Vice President Mike Pence was in South Korea and he was giving interviews insisting that the days of namby pamby negotiations with North Korea are at an end. Our patience with their nuclear tests and missile launches are at an end, he said.

And what does that mean? Pence didn’t say. He just kept reiterating that Trump is one tough hombre and that the other nations in the region, notably China and Japan, are recognizing his leadership and falling in line.

I hope he’s right because the Carl Vinson is nowhere in sight.

And, while I’m watching all that on CNN, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson comes on and, essentially, threatens war with Iran.

He said Iran is a sponsor of terrorism and backs the government of Syria.

“The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear: Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world.”

He said the government is reviewing its Iran policy and, once the review is done, will “meet the challenge Iran poses with clarity and conviction.”

Perhaps the Carl Vinson will be available.