While visiting South Korea as part of a tour to meet with Asian leaders and figure out what the hell to do about North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is saying he’s pretty much given up on diplomacy regarding North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said at a news conference in Seoul with Yun Byung-se, the South Korean foreign minister. He was referring to the Obama administration policy of trying to wait North Korea out, hoping that sanctions would prove so crippling that Pyongyang would have no choice but to return to denuclearization negotiations.
“We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson said. While the United States does not want military conflict, threats “would be met with an appropriate response,” he added.
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson said.
While it would clearly be too early to panic, we’d just like to remind you Donald Trump has the nuclear launch codes. Oh, maybe you don’t need that next cup of coffee quite so much now.
Fortunately, the Twit in Chief had some thoughts aimed at smoothing out the tensions:
That probably helped calm everyone down a lot.
The Trump administration appears to be seriously considering military strikes against North Korean facilities to prevent it from deploying an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S., and Tillerson appears to have given up on diplomacy:
In Tokyo on Thursday, he said that 20 years of diplomatic efforts to prod North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions had failed. He went further in Seoul on Friday, signaling that multilateral talks — with or without North Korea — were not under consideration.
“Conditions must change before there’s any scope for talks to resume” […] Tillerson said.
So it looks like the administration is out of patience. Or perhaps it’s simply out of energy, as a story in the Korea Herald suggests. While Tillerson had a 2 1/2 hour meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister when he was in Tokyo, as well as an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, once he got to Korea, he cut his schedule short. Besides the joint press conference with Yun, he only met for an hour each with Yun and with acting president and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, bailing out on lunch or dinner with his Korean counterparts because of “fatigue,” according to Korean officials. Sure, maybe we need to get ready for war on the Korean Peninsula, but let’s not spend too much time with the people who’ll be on the receiving end — Tillerson needs his nap.
This isn’t the only time Tillerson’s need for a good lie-down has made the news; in February, Tillerson skipped out of a meeting between Trump and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so he could leave early for a trip to Bonn, Germany, for a Group of 20 meeting. He wanted to get to Bonn the night before so he could get a good night’s sleep, so he left the Netanyahu meeting to acting deputy Thomas A. Shannon Jr., one of those Obama administration holdovers the Trump administration can’t stand but also hasn’t nominated anyone to replace.
So before you head for your backyard bunker over the increasing tensions surrounding North Korea, keep this much in mind: Rex Tillerson’s not losing any sleep over it. Maybe Trump should have looked for a secretary of State who had some energy and stamina, huh?
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