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Consistency, please

Sep 21, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

The President of the United States risks stepping into a quagmire through the mixed signals he is sending to the so-called "rogue" nations of Iran and NorthKorea.

At the United Nations this week, the president took the microphone, stood before the General Assembly and threatened to "totally destroy North Korea." This followed months of saying that the United States would insist on a negotiated shutdown of North Korea's nuclear weapons program before crippling U.S. economic sanctions could be lifted.

In the same speech at the U.N., the president belittled the hard-won nuclear slowdown agreement reached with Iran, calling it an embarrassment to the United States and suggesting strongly that he was about to walk away from the deal.

What, then, must these two nations think of United States? How could North Korea enter into nuclear arms reduction negotiations as commanded by Donald Trump when the president simultaneously is threatening to quit on a similar agreement reached with Iran? Could North Korea feel that any negotiated agreement with the U.S. isn't worth the paper it's printed on?

In Iran, imagine the consternation upon hearing first, that the United States is about to renege on its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, while also hearing the president talking about destroying another nuclear-ambitious country with whom the United States has no such agreement?

Neither of these nations is ever going to be our best buddy in world affairs. We don't particularly care what they think of us. But our own obligation as a world leader, both diplomatically and militarily, depends on the right hand knowing what the left hand is doing.

The president has enjoyed saying he's a man who "likes to be unpredictable." That's all well and good when you're keeping people guessing about what to serve for dessert at the White House Thanksgiving dinner, but it's a dangerous game to play when the stakes are international diplomacy and nuclear weapons. A bit more consistency in approach is advisable.

The season

Thursday is the last full day of summer. Fall arrivesFriday, and with it the bridge to Wyoming winter.

The magnificent English poet A.E. Housman mourned the loss of summer, both as a season and as a time of life - but not without hope. This untitled poem from 1922 often is referred to as "When Summer's End is Nighing:"

When summer's end is nighing, and skies at evening cloud,

I muse on change and fortune and all the feats I vowed,

Q95;Q95;When I was young and proud.

The weathervane at sunset wouldlose the slanted ray,

And I would climb the beacon that looked to Wales away.

Q95;Q95;And saw the last of day.

From hill and cloud and heaven, the hues of evening died;

Night welled through lane and hollow, and hushed the countryside,

Q95;Q95;But I had youth and pride.

And I with earth and nightfall in converse high would stand,

Late, till the west was ashes and darkness hard at hand,

Q95;Q95;And the eye lost the land.

The year might age, and cloudy the lessening day might close,

But air of other summer breathed from beyond the snows,

Q95;Q95;And I had hope of those.

They came and were and are not, andcome no more anew;

And all the years and seasons that ever can ensue

Q95;Q95;Must now be worse and few.

So here's an end of roaming on eves when autumn nighs:

The ear too fondly listens for summer's parting sighs,

Q95;Q95;And then the heart replies.

Welcome, fall. Go easy on us, please.

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2017-10-18