The weekend Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in China. It is the end of his tour that has the clear mission of forestalling North Korea’s acquisition of a nuclear arsenal. The tone he set in Japan and South Korea was realistic and no-nonsense. He continued that today in an interview with IJR, which, scandalously, or so we’re told, is the only media rep with him on the trip. It’s really a shame when the Secretary of State doesn’t allow the media to make the news about themselves and thereby depriving us of a free press.
First there is the gossip part. Tillerson very clearly put the South Koreans on notice that we are more concerned with North Korea’s nukes than we are with South Korea’s domestic politics which includes a very strong pacifist, in not outright Vichy, tendency in dealing with the DPRK. There was no state dinner last night. Some of it may have been pique but it was mostly due to the fact that the ROK is between presidents right now, they impeached one this week, and their government is in flux. Whatever the reason the ROK media had to justify no dinner and ran with a story that Tillerson had begged off dinner because of “fatigue.” Then the Hillary fanbois and fangirls picked up the chant:
Erin McPike: First of all, let me just ask you since the South Korean newspaper reported that you cancelled dinner because of fatigue, and then they said you spent more time with the Japanese than the South Koreans. What happened?
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: They never invited us for dinner, then at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well in public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was tired.
EM: So are you saying they lied about it?
RT: No, it was just their explanation.
I sort of like this guy. It is refreshing to not have a Kerry-esque mouthing implausible lies 24/7.
Now to the rest of the interview.
EM: How dangerous is the place we’re in today? The State Department just announced that Joseph Yun is on the way here for six days. What’s his mission? What are the next steps? How urgent is it right now?
RT: Well, in terms of the urgency right now is to ensure that the regime of Pyongyang has heard the message. That’s why we’ve tried to be very clear and succinct with the message, which is, first, we do not intend to be a threat to you. We do not want to have a conflict with you. We want you to change your direction. And we want others in the region to help us help them make a different decision. That’s the first step. And then obviously that has to be backed up with action, so that they understand we’re serious. And that means soliciting others to help us with that message and backing that message up to North Korea: that you need to change directions.
RT: No one issue defines the relationship between the U.S. and China. We will be talking about a broad range of issues when I’m in Beijing. But the threat of North Korea is imminent. And it has reached a level that we are very concerned about the consequences of North Korea being allowed to continue on this progress it’s been making on the development of both weapons and delivery systems. And it’s reached a very alarming state to us. So it is getting a lot of discussion up front because it’s imminent. We have a broad range of issues that define the relationship. This is but one. There are others, and you listed them. All of them have their importance in the U.S.-China relationship, but this one — as I said — just happens to have bubbled to the top because of the recent actions that have been taken by North Korea.
At this point the peanut gallery chimed in:
Buried news today: Tillerson calling North Korea an "imminent" threat. Not sure if he understood the import of that word.
— Blake News (@blakehounshell) March 18, 2017
Hounshell, if you recall, is a Politico editor with no background in diplomacy who laughed at Sarah Palin for saying that Barack Obama’s timidity toward Russia during its invasion of Georgia would lead to the invasion of Ukraine if carried into the White House.
Rex Tillerson calls North Korea an "imminent threat." Did he really mean that? If so, that's huge. https://t.co/xpQiwVZCgG
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) March 18, 2017
Rogin, of course, is the guy who made up at least two stories that were damaging to Trump out of whole cloth.
Of course, North Korea is a imminent threat. It has nuclear weapons. It has delivery systems. The leadership is not only desperate but batsh** crazy.
We are at a point where our regional partners have to be infused with a sense of urgency. China has enabled the DPRK regime to skirt sanctions. The ROK has appeased them. The Japanese are trying to ignore them. The imminent threat language is aimed at those nations more than it is aimed at the DPRK. Thanks to years of vacillation and weakness we are now at a point where there are very few good endings to the movie. Tillerson has rightfully decided to let all parties know that this sham game of keeping the DPRK afloat and allowing them to build nukes and missiles and proliferate the ballistic missile technology cannot continue. While the DPRK may never give up their weapons, and Tillerson is pretty clear that he doesn’t see that happening, they have to moderate their behavior. Otherwise miscalculation and war become inevitable.