Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tillerson: should I revise my 'no war this year'?

A few days ago I wrote this on Korea:
There isn’t going to be a real war this year: I have revised my perspective away from anticipation of war in preparing this note.
Should I revise that in the light of remarks by the US Secretary of State in Seoul yesterday?

I don't think so.

US Secretary of State Tillerson has been widely reported thus on 17 March:

Seoul (CNN)The US would consider military action against North Korea if it was provoked, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday.
Speaking in Seoul at a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said Washington's policy of "strategic patience" had ended.
    "Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict ... but obviously, if North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response," he said, in response to a question from CNN.
    "If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table," Tillerson added.
    But think about it:
    • This is a Secretary of State who thus far has been largely excluded from the major discussions about international strategic issues and from Trump's meetings with foreign leaders.
    • He did however participate in a discussion with the clique at the White House, about his current trip to Asia.
    • He is an ordinary Secretary of State in carrying with him a 'brief' for discussions.
    • He is a low-level Secretary of State inasmuch as one cannot imagine him departing from his brief at all. 
    • We can presume he has articulated the brief well.
    And then from the back room, this yap:

    Later Friday morning, President Donald Trump denounced North Korea, tweeting, "North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been 'playing' the United States for years. China has done little to help!"

    ... A spine stiffener for the brief for the China visit too.

    And back there in the dark swamp — taking the 'charm' out of 'charm offensive'.

    It's possible that someone in the White House looked up Merkel in Wikipedia and said "boss, boss, they actually moved from West Germany to East Germany and she was head of agit-prop in her local German communist youth organisation." No wonder no hand-shaking. Someone also may have discovered that Germany is next to Switzerland where current (and recently deceased) generation North Korean Kims went to school. So let's not just imagine it's a distaste for her modesty, education, intelligence, humanitarian perspective, global vision or such muck. It's the back story, surely!

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