By Robert Wenzel
In perhaps the most horrific start by any United States Secretary of State, Trump administration Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited South Korea this past week and taunted North Korean President Kim Jong-un.
“I think it’s important to recognize that the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearization have failed,” Tillerson said Thursday during his visit.
“We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table,” he said the following day at a news conference in Seoul with Yun Byung-se, the South Korean foreign minister. He went on and said that while the U.S. did not want military conflict, threats “would be met with an appropriate response.”
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” he said.
And thus the senior U.S. "diplomat" jettisoned discussions and a diplomatic approach with Kim without out ever having talked to the North Korean leader.
It is remarkable to have to state this but Dennis Rodman in 2014, without trying, had done more to ease tensions between the United States and North Korea than Tillerson has now.
What has Tillerson accomplished by taunting the crazed kid leader of North Korea?
An in your face response from the Korean kid.
The Austrailian reports:
North Korea has tested a powerful new rocket engine, state media said Sunday, with leader Kim Jong-un hailing the successful test as a “new birth” for the nation’s rocket industry.I do not expect Trump or Tillerson to call in Rodman to attempt to cool things down. Tillerson's comments in South Korean appeared to have done just what they were meant to do, provoke the 33-year leader.
The test was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Beijing on Saturday, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a “dangerous level”.
State news agency said Kim had overseen the operation, and “emphasised that the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries”, KCNA reported, hinting that the North could use the new engine to launch a rocket to put a satellite in orbit.
Rocket engines are easily re-purposed for use in missiles.
Outside observers say that the nuclear-armed Pyongyang’s space program is a fig leaf for weapons tests.
This past week in the EPJ Daily Alert and at a recent private meeting, I put the odds of the U.S. going to war with North Korea in the near term at 50-50. It has to be higher than that now.
I will not shed any tears if North Korea is attacked. Thirty-three-year old nut jobs playing with nukes does scare me but it really shouldn't have to come to this. The kid could be sweet talked.
Trump seemingly has forgotten he wrote a book called The Art of the Deal. He is surrounded by too many generals. Not one of them comes close to displaying the wisdom, principle, and insight of Major General Smedley Butler.
The U.S. would probably win a war against North Korea. I don't think the military will screw this up like they did Vietnam but it may not be easy if North Korean troops don't turn tail and run at the first sound of US military Air Force bombers like Iraqi soldiers did.
Eric Margolis explains:
North Korea’s one million-man armed force is large but obsolescent. Its great strength in heavy artillery partly compensates for its totally obsolete, 1960’s vintage air force. Key combat elements of the DPRK army are dug deep into the rocky hills just north of the DMZ, with thousands of heavy North Korean guns facing south. In the event of war, the North claims it will destroy South Korea’s capital, Seoul, that is only 30km away and has 20 million residents.Yes, the title of this article is crude and rude but it is nothing compared to the ugly violence and destruction and bloodshed if Tillerson and Trump get us into war with the Korean kid.
US estimates of war in Korea made a decade ago, suggest America would incur 250,000 casualties in a war that would cost one million Korean deaths. That’s why the US has shied away from the direct attack on North Korea. Unlike Iraqis, Syrians, Libyans and Somalis, North Koreans know how to fight back and are amply armed for a defensive war.
The US would certainly be tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons against North Korean troops and guns deeply dug into the mountainous terrain. Without them, air power, America’s usual trump card, would lose much of its destructive potential. No doubt, all North Korea would be ravaged by US air power, as it was during the 1950’s Korean War. South Korea plans massive air, missile and commando attacks on North Korean military HQ and against leader Kim Jung-un’s hideaway.
US war plans call for amphibious landings along North Korea’s long, vulnerable coastline. This threat forces the North to deploy large numbers of regular army and militia troops on both coasts.
North Korea’s air force and little navy would be vaporized on the first day of hostilities. But it is likely that the DPRK would be able to fire a score or more of medium-ranged missiles at Japan. If the war goes nuclear, Japan looks almost certain to suffer a nuclear attack, along with Guam. Tokyo and Osaka are prime targets.
North Korean forces might be able to push south to Seoul, but likely no further in the face of fierce attacks by the US and South Korean air power operating from bases further south. The North’s powerful commando force of some 100,000 troops would attack key South Korean targets, including its vital air bases shared with the US. Such raids would be highly disruptive but not decisive unless the DPRK used chemical and/or biological weapons to shut down South Korea’s air bases and its ports at Busan and Inchon.
The US and South Korea could certainly win such a war but it would be very bloody and expensive.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on iphone and stitcher.
1:24 AM 03-19-17
Overnight, Tillerson has changed his tone.
Has he thought anything about he wants to really deal with North Korea?
This is amateur night on the nuclear stage,
The Financial Times reports:
Rex Tillerson toned down anti-Pyongyang rhetoric during a visit to Beijing on Saturday, pledging to work together with his Chinese hosts to “make a course correction” in nuclear-armed North Korea.
“I think we share a common view and a sense that tensions in the peninsula are quite high right now and that things have reached a rather dangerous level,” the US secretary of state said following a meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.
“We will work together to see if we cannot bring the government in Pyongyang to a place where they want to make a different course, make a course correction, and move away from the development of nuclear weapons.”
The remarks followed an unusually bellicose statement during a visit to Seoul on Friday, where following a visit to the demilitarised zone between South and North Korea, Mr Tillerson said “all options are on the table” including military, for dealing with the North’s nuclear threat.
However, speaking in Beijing on Saturday Mr Tillerson appeared to tailor a milder message to his audience