Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. North Korea Fires Missile; Tillerson Gives Cryptic Response

 

North Korea fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, in an apparent effort to mar the upcoming US-China summit. Before the test, a senior White House official said regarding the rogue state, “the clock has now run out, and all options are on the table.”

President Trump echoed the tough talk in a recent Financial Times interview. “China has great influence over North Korea,” he said, “and China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone.”

Trump added, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”

Concerning the latest missile test, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a terse and cryptic response.

What do you think is behind Tillerson’s statement? Indifference, hostility, or something else?

There are 39 comments.

  1. Kyle Kirker Inactive

    Maybe a veiled “the time for talk is over, now is the time for action” statement to warn North Korea, or indicate to China that America isn’t willing to tolerate this anymore.

    Maybe just saying that would have been better, but there’s no theater in that!

    • #1
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:02 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Front Seat Cat Member

    I think he means that instead of appeasing that fat bozo, President Trump will ask for solutions and expect them, from China and the world community, but won’t sit back and ignore his threats, especially if they can hit the US. That guy is a menace to his people and everyone else. I am sure South Korea would welcome some serious talks with teeth.

    • #2
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:04 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    That’s the “no comment” version. I suspect that the standard tut-tutting of the last 8 years won’t be repeated much going forward.

    • #3
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:08 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. Penfold Member

    If there’s going to be a war or a police action or whatever, I’d love to hear from one or two of our amazingly diverse and knowledgeable members what such a thing might look like. I mean might the NK warefare strategies be Clauswitzian, Sun Tzu or Liddel Hart? Knights or ninjas.

    • #4
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:08 PM PST
    • Like
  5. James Gawron Thatcher

    Jon,

    Sometimes it’s best not to say anything and just let the other guy sweat. There is about a 1,000 different things we can do. Let him contemplate. He just poisoned to death a blood relative. Perhaps he should contemplate that.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #5
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:13 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  6. ctlaw Coolidge

    The Navy should, without comment, reclassify the USS Pueblo as a target ship.

    • #6
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:33 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Quake Voter Inactive

    I hope Trump can channel his aggressive instincts. When Kim Jung Un smiles broadly he looks an awful lot like Rosie O’Donnell.

    • #7
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:42 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Benjamin Glaser Inactive

    Pompous B.S. word salads are for the Obama administration.

    Tillerson is not interested in the Kerry-esque tut-tutting and finger waging.

    • #8
    • April 4, 2017, at 6:53 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. Skyler Coolidge

    I like it.

    • #9
    • April 4, 2017, at 7:29 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer Member

    Interesting. Nothing specific but vaguely threatening. Spoken like someone who wishes the PRC to be uncertain prior to the Mar-a-Lago summit. But what is the plan? Is there a plan or just playing the wild card?

    This summit could be very interesting indeed.

    • #10
    • April 4, 2017, at 7:40 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Fritz Member

    Where does Mad Dog Mattis stand?

    • #11
    • April 4, 2017, at 8:35 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. James Lileks Contributor

    I was going to post the same thing, under the headline “Less is More.” Diplomatic language always seems like the precise and civilized expression of impotence. This is like Dad clamming up when you come home late with a busted tail light: the silence is more nerve-wracking than the lecture. The silence suggests the worst is yet to come.

    • #12
    • April 4, 2017, at 9:05 PM PST
    • 11 likes
  13. Mark Wilson Member

    “The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end.”

    • #13
    • April 4, 2017, at 11:35 PM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Dan Hanson Thatcher

    I read that as threatening. But it’s also ambiguous enough that it doesn’t need to be walked back if the situation requires it. It’s not a red line – just a statement that the U.S. has lost patience and is done talking – whatever comes next is up in the air, but it should cause Lil’ Kim to lose a bit of sleep. In other words, good diplomacy.

    The U.S. isn’t going to go to war with North Korea. But I could see Tillerson telling them something like the next missile launch will be seen as a hostile act and will result in the destruction of the site that launched the missile. Whether such an event would escalate into a war depends on how crazy the North Korean leadership really is. There can be no doubt that if they start a war it would result in the rapid end of the regime. My guess is that if Kim Jon Un ordered the military to invade South Korea, fire its artillery at Seoul, or otherwise engage in large hostile actions, he might find himself taking a bullet for the team, delivered by one of the officers around him who would rather he stay alive for a while longer.

    But the particularly dangerous aspect to this is that we don’t understand the North Koreans very well. Nor do we understand the pressures the ruling class may be under, or where the real centers of power in the government are. And the new American administration is a bit of a cipher to them as well. All this increases the chance of attribution error or a misjudging of motives or resolve, which is exactly what leads countries into war.

    • #14
    • April 5, 2017, at 12:15 AM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Randy Webster Member

    How stealthy are the Predators?

    • #15
    • April 5, 2017, at 3:47 AM PST
    • Like
  16. GrannyDude Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Jon,

    Sometimes it’s best not to say anything and just let the other guy sweat. There is about a 1,000 different things we can do. Let him contemplate. He just poisoned to death a blood relative. Perhaps he should contemplate that.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Yes!

    • #16
    • April 5, 2017, at 4:21 AM PST
    • Like
  17. Skyler Coolidge

    Dan Hanson (View Comment):
    he might find himself taking a bullet for the team, delivered by one of the officers around him who would rather he stay alive for a while longer.

    That’s what we thought about Saddam, Castro, the ayatollah and any number of other brutal dictators. History would seem to show that an uprising will not be spurred by an outside threat or even an attack. The fear he instills is magnified, and opposition is not. Attacking North Korea will require using nuclear weapons against them and risk a larger war with China.

    I’m okay with that, but Americans as a whole are not.

    • #17
    • April 5, 2017, at 4:30 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Bishop Wash Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    How stealthy are the Predators?

    Not very. That’s a concern because we’ve always used them in uncontested airspace and become reliant upon them. What happens when we can’t fly our UAVs, uhh RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicle–the Air Force wants people to realize someone is piloting the device) wherever and whenever we want? Hopefully we are planning for those contingencies.

    • #18
    • April 5, 2017, at 4:46 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. I Walton Member

    The administrations reaction was just right, but now China has to do something or it’s Trumps red line and he has to do something. Dangerous place even if run by a person verging on normal, but this guy is a loon, which gives him leverage. Now we’ve got our own guy the world perceives as also a loon. Interesting times.

    • #19
    • April 5, 2017, at 5:30 AM PST
    • Like
  20. Kozak Member

    • #20
    • April 5, 2017, at 5:31 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. ctlaw Coolidge

    Dan Hanson (View Comment):
    My guess is that if Kim Jon Un ordered the military to invade South Korea, fire its artillery at Seoul, or otherwise engage in large hostile actions, he might find himself taking a bullet for the team, delivered by one of the officers around him who would rather he stay alive for a while longer.

    It’s a wacky enough place that I’m not hopeful of that. Similarly, I am not hopeful of any promoting of a coup.

    Thus, it would be risky to try to promote a coup.

    Can we build the capability of senior NorK leadership to rebel?

    A possible way is to take out another dictator in a way that inspires such rebels.

    Cuba and Venezuela were about to go down when Obama bailed Cuba out. Can we inspire coups in those countries that might, in turn inspire NorK rebels? We’d have to move quickly to get it done before Iran bails them out with several billion of the gift Obama gave them. We’d also have to make it clear that we do not expect the coup plotters to follow the Marquess of Queensbury Rules.

    • #21
    • April 5, 2017, at 5:33 AM PST
    • 1 like
  22. I Walton Member

    We lack on the ground intelligence that would help us target our smart bombs, plan a coup, or carry out an assassination. I suspect this means we’d have to obliterate the place preemptively and take out any and all hostile appearing movements. This is the chaos China doesn’t want to see, so they may actually try to do something. They also wouldn’t want President Trump to have a decisive military victory, nor see the two Koreas unify in the chaotic aftermath. They may just get rid of him. They could also test President Trump by not doing anything and seeing what he will do. Depends on how they see President Trump. We are all wondering about that but doing nothing strikes me as the greater risk to China. They can win Trump’s favor by dealing with NK and avoid the risk of major changes they do not want. As I said, I think Trump’s comment was just right.

    • #22
    • April 5, 2017, at 5:58 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Dan Hanson (View Comment):
    he might find himself taking a bullet for the team, delivered by one of the officers around him who would rather he stay alive for a while longer.

    That’s what we thought about Saddam, Castro, the ayatollah and any number of other brutal dictators. History would seem to show that an uprising will not be spurred by an outside threat or even an attack. The fear he instills is magnified, and opposition is not. Attacking North Korea will require using nuclear weapons against them and risk a larger war with China.

    I’m okay with that, but Americans as a whole are not.

    I’d be very surprised to see China come to NoKo’s defense. What’s really in it for them? I think it’s more likely fear of Trump’s erratic and unpredictable behavior moves China to help for once. I think they’d prefer to preserve an authoritarian client state that wasn’t threatening the rest of the region in NoKo to all the losses that war would entail, including the potential loss of that client state.

    • #23
    • April 5, 2017, at 6:18 AM PST
    • Like
  24. Penfold Member

    If the Chinese are going to “do something” they’ll want something in return. Speaking with very little research or evidence, I’d venture to assume that a land grab would net them very little except more mouths to feed. They already have substantial influence in NK for little cost and they can leave the headaches to Kim. Instead, I think they’d bargain for concessions in their current sphere of influence (China Sea) from the US, Japan and maybe the Philippines. Then they’d reign in their lap dog enough to satisfy the UN after which they can start the game all over again.

    • #24
    • April 5, 2017, at 6:42 AM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Skyler Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    I’d be very surprised to see China come to NoKo’s defense.

    The entire reason the Korean War was so bad is because of the Chinese, who were and are still very suspicious of the west, and will take action to prevent Korea being unified or even mildly aligned with the US.

    • #25
    • April 5, 2017, at 6:58 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Mountie Member

    Of the 11 carriers that we have there are only two at sea: The Truman and the Stennis. The Truman is on station in the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf. Unfortunately for the Kim the last know status of the Stennis was mid Pacific. And that was a position reported several weeks ago.

    • #26
    • April 5, 2017, at 7:10 AM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    I’d be very surprised to see China come to NoKo’s defense.

    The entire reason the Korean War was so bad is because of the Chinese, who were and are still very suspicious of the west, and will take action to prevent Korea being unified or even mildly aligned with the US.

    The Korean war was 65 years ago and China is a very different country today. Still authoritarian, yes, but other than that very different. Far more practical, far more focused on economic growth, far more integrated in the world economy. I don’t know for sure how will respond, but I don’t think how it responded in the early 50s is much of a guide.

    • #27
    • April 5, 2017, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. Skyler Coolidge

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    I’d be very surprised to see China come to NoKo’s defense.

    The entire reason the Korean War was so bad is because of the Chinese, who were and are still very suspicious of the west, and will take action to prevent Korea being unified or even mildly aligned with the US.

    The Korean war was 65 years ago and China is a very different country today. Still authoritarian, yes, but other than that very different. Far more practical, far more focused on economic growth, far more integrated in the world economy. I don’t know for sure how will respond, but I don’t think how it responded in the early 50s is much of a guide.

    But still paranoid and still aggressive. If North Korea is threatened by us we cannot be sure the Chinese won’t react just as they did in the 1950’s.

    My personal opinion is that Tillerson is asking China to invade North Korea so we don’t have to. I suspect that we would be perfectly happy with China expanding into the Peninsula. It’s not ideal, but it’s much better than what we have now.

    • #28
    • April 5, 2017, at 7:51 AM PST
    • Like
  29. Doug Watt Member

    China and Russia both use Kim Jong Un to provide a measure of instability that benefits their efforts to achieve their goals in the Pacific. I wouldn’t look for any help from the Chinese to reign in Kim.

    If worse comes to worse one of our objectives should be to hunt down Kim’s barber.

    • #29
    • April 5, 2017, at 8:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    China and Russia both use Kim Jong Un to provide a measure of instability that benefits their efforts to achieve their goals in the Pacific. I wouldn’t look for any help from the Chinese to reign in Kim.

    If worse comes to worse one of our objectives should be to hunt down Kim’s barber.

    I can only assume that if we had the access to kill Kim, he would be dead. I’d like to think even Obama would have taken him out and I’m fairly certain Trump would, given the opportunity.

    • #30
    • April 5, 2017, at 9:06 AM PST
    • Like