Mark Sumner / The Daily Kos & Tim Hume / Vice News – 2017-03-18 00:53:34
“Talk Is Not Going to Change the Situation.”
Exhausted Rex Tillerson Threatens
A Preemptive Strike on North Korea
Mark Sumner / The Daily Kos
(March 17, 2017) — US Secretary of State Tillerson cut short his visit to South Korea because of “fatigue,” Korean officials tell Korea Herald.
When inexperienced diplomats get tired . . .
They can get grumpy.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday declared that the existing “strategic patience” approach is over, saying all options including military action are on the table . . . .
“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures. All options are on the table.”
Tillerson isn’t just talking about military action, he’s talking up the possibility of making a preemptive attack on North Korea. It’s an option that’s being pressed by supposedly reasonable Republicans.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month that the United States has three choices: what he called “proactive regime change,” to topple Kim; sanctions and other coercive measures; or military cooperation with Japan and South Korea that could include a preemptive strike on missile facilities. “Otherwise, we’re staring down the barrel of an ICBM,” Corker said.
Two points: first, ICBMs don’t have barrels, second, Russia and China already have better than 2,000 missiles pointed our way and a handful more from North Korea doesn’t represent a serious increase in the threat to the nation. But our attitude about those weapons is a serious issue.
Especially to more than 20 million people in South Korea we can’t protect . . . .
Rex Tillerson Says a Pre-emptive Strike
Against North Korea Is “On the Table” for the US
Tim Hume / Vice News
(March 17, 2017) — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Friday that America’s policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over, and said pre-emptive military action is “on the table” if the rogue regime presses ahead with its nuclear weapons program.
Tillerson’s comments, delivered during his visit to Seoul, are the bluntest yet from the Trump administration amid a spiraling crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, and signal a more aggressive US response to the historically erratic Hermit Kingdom.
“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said at a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
The former ExxonMobil CEO said that after two decades of failed and costly attempts to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear development, it was time for a new approach.
“We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures,” he said, referring to the possibility of a pre-emptive strike but offering no further elaboration. “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”
Shortly after Tillerson delivered his comments in Seoul, President Trump weighed in on Twitter.
Leonid Petrov, a Korea specialist at Australian National University, told VICE News that the US pivot to abandoning strategic patience for “strategic impatience” was a risky act of brinkmanship that, one which puts South Korea at greater risk of aggression. But Daniel Pinkston, an international relations expert at South Korea’s Troy University, told VICE News that the remarks were unlikely to do much to change the status quo.
“Talk is not going to change the situation,” he said, adding that the he believed the tougher tone was largely for the benefit of the US domestic audience.
Tillerson, who is currently on a three-nation tour of East Asia, cut his meetings with South Korean officials short, according to officials in Seoul, who said the US Secretary was ‘fatigued.’
Tillerson’s busy diplomatic weekend comes amid rising tensions in the region over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, as it rapidly pushes ahead with plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US Since the beginning of last year, North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a string of missile launches, including four fired toward Japan last week, in defiance of U.N. restrictions.
The US deployment on South Korean soil of a sophisticated anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), intended to defend against North Korean aggression, has further inflamed regional tensions and angered China, which views the system as a threat.
Ahead of a critical visit to China on Saturday, in which Tillerson will attempt to enlist Beijing’s help in reining in North Korea, he called on the Chinese leadership to drop its opposition to the anti-missile system and help “address the threat that makes THAAD necessary.”
He also called China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for its involvement in the project “inappropriate and troubling,” and dismissed Beijing’s suggestion that the US suspend military exercises with South Korea to defuse tensions.
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