Talk to North Korea? Tillerson beats Trump
By Doug Bandow
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insists that contrary to news reports he did not consider resigning. However, he failed to deny that he called the president a moron. President Donald Trump returned the favor in his own unique way.
Secretary Tillerson recently indicated that “we are probing” North Korea, with which American officials have “lines of communication,” regarding possible negotiations. Indeed, added Tillerson, “We can talk to them, we do talk to them.”
But then the president declared the secretary was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” That was the same President Trump who once said he would be “honored” to meet the North’s Kim Jong-un. And whose Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, recently insisted that North Korea “is still a diplomatically-led effort.”
It’s unclear what to call foreign policy in the Trump administration. On a range of issues Washington appears to have at least two different foreign policies. In this case Secretary Tillerson has the better argument.
President Trump spent the last couple of months doing the foreign policy equivalent of the Maori Haka in an attempt to intimidate Kim. But the latter has mastered the art of the florid threat and will always trump Trump when it comes to insults.
In belittling his secretary of state’s efforts, the president insisted that “we’ll do what has to be done!” What that is, however, no one knows — probably not even the president himself.
So far his policy looks a lot like that of his predecessor. The major difference today is the U.S. president constantly threatens war.
The more President Trump does so without acting, the more he looks like a loud-mouthed poseur. In which case the North Koreans may not take his threats seriously even when they should.
But even scarier is the thought that he might be serious. U.S. military strikes, even […]