Early on Friday, he took to Twitter to accuse North Korea of “behaving very badly.” But to the commander in chief, attacking the communist dictatorship wasn't enough. Instead, he added insult to injury by also publicly criticizing China for doing “little to help.”
North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been "playing" the United States for years. China has done little to help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2017
During an early Friday press conference in South Korea, Tillerson told reporters that “[i]f [North Korea officials] elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action then that option is on the table.”
Adding that “we do not want for things to get to a military conflict,” Tillerson assured reporters that if the North “takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or [U.S.] forces,” than the United States would respond accordingly. He also added that the traditional U.S. policy of “strategic patience” regarding North Korea's nuclear tests and missiles would also come to an end.
During the presidential campaign, Trump frequently criticized North Korea and its nuclear program, often calling on China to intervene in a more dramatic way.
As Tillerson is expected to arrive in Beijing, China this Saturday, the secretary of state will probably face a great deal of criticism over the president's attacks on Twitter.
It's a well-known fact that a collapse of the current North Korean regime would have wide ranging ramifications, which could cause the country to plunge into famine on top of everything else.
If Trump pressures China to intervene more drastically and the U.S. is involved in the effort to bring down the current government, the nuclear issue would be the last of their concerns as millions of North Koreans would face serious food deprivation.
Is Trump ready to bear the moral burden of such a task?
Here is Trump casually taunting North Korea and China via Twitter, as Tillerson threatens "preemptive action" and Pyongyang threatens war pic.twitter.com/VL50J51rel— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) March 17, 2017
Serious foreign policy concerns aside, we wonder if Tillerson secretly hopes Trump would keep his wild thoughts to himself every time he gets to travel abroad to meet with foreign leaders. Who wouldn't be tired of having to clean up the president's diplomatic messes? But then again, he might like the challenge. After all, he's the one threatening North Korea with military action.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Joshua Roberts