Mattis Warns North Korea: Shoot at the United States, and "It's Game On"

As streiff reported earlier today, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson had a piece in the Wall Street Journal today announcing the end of the policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea. Later today, Mattis translated the written verbiage of the piece into simple words that any North Korean dictator could easily understand:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued a strong warning to North Korea Monday: “If they shoot at the United States, I’m assuming they’ve hit the United States. … If they do that, then it’s game on.”

“You don’t shoot at people in this world unless you want to bear the consequences,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

This is nothing particularly new from Mattis; he warned the other day that North Korea should avoid any acts like might lead to the destruction of the North Korean people. But somehow, threats from James Mattis don’t have the same loony appearance as threats from our erratic Commander in Chief.

Kim’s state-run media soon responded with the usual barrage of nonsense:

Soon after Mattis issued his warning, state-run North Korean media outlet KCNA reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had inspected his military’s plan to launch missiles at Guam and discussed the possibility of a strike with his top commanders.

“He said that if the planned fire of power demonstration is carried out as the US is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks, underlining the need to be always ready for launching to go into action anytime once our Party decides,” the report said.

Well, Keith Ellison did say that Kim was more responsible than Trump . . .

By the way, I can’t let this pass without comment:

“War is up to the President, perhaps up to the Congress, the bottom line is we will defend the country from an attack, for us that’s war, that’s a wartime situation,” [Mattis] said.

“We will defend the country from any attack, at any time, from any quarter. Yes, that means for a lot of young troops they’re going to be in a wartime situation, welcome to reality. But it’s not declaring war, it’s not that I’m over here Dr. Strangelove doing things like that,” he added.

I don’t like generals saying that “war is up to the President.” The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. But in context, I’ll give Mattis a pass. This statement is a little garbled, but he seems to be separating a declaration of war (which is within Congress’s authority) from a defensive military action (which can be within the President’s authority).

I just get twitchy when people sound like they are arrogating the power to declare war to the President.

We’ll see where the tough talk leads. Things look like they are coming to a head.

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