North Korea’s recent test-launch of three short range ballistic missiles failed to provoke a militant reaction from Washington or Seoul.
South Korea said that the nature of the North Korean launches which used short range rather than medium or inter-continental ballistic missiles, is a sign that Pyongyang may be ready to engage in dialogue with other international powers.
The Duran reported that shortly after South Korea’s statement, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the following…
“We do view it as a provocative act against the United States and our allies … We’re going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign, as I have described it, working with allies, working with China as well to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table with a view to begin a dialogue on a different future for Korean peninsula and for North Korea”.
Via The Duran…
While the US has yet to acknowledge its position on the joint Sino-Russian peace plan which calls for military de-escalation on both sides of the 38th parallel as well as direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington, Tillerson’s statement is at minimum, indicative of an approach to North Korea that refrains from overt military threats. Trump’s days of threatening “fire and fury” upon Pyongyang seem to be behind us as things gradually calm down.
In this sense, until Washington and Pyongyang speak directly, the conflict is best thought of as a stalemate where if anything Pyongyang has the upper hand due to China and Russia’s thorough opposition to war on their borders.
Here is Rex Tillerson’s full interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, where North Korea policy is explained…
And while North Korea was certainly on Tillerson’s agenda, what the media was focused on was Tillerson’s reported distancing from Trump’s remarks after the deadly Virginia protests, saying the president “speaks for himself.” Tillerson’s comment on “Fox News Sunday” follows Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser and the director of the National Economic Council, saying in a Financial Times interview published last week that the administration “can and must do better” in condemning hate groups.
In the exchange below, Chris Wallace asked Tillerson about Trump’s response to the racist carnage in Charlottesville. Tillerson replied: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government, or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”
Wallace asked the obvious follow-up question: “And the president’s values?”
“The president speaks for himself,” Tillerson said, leaving Wallace with a surprised look on his face.
Must-watch. Wallace asks Tillerson if Trump speaks for American values: “The President speaks for himself.” (Note Wallace’s reaction.) pic.twitter.com/fHEk6qjwPd
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 27, 2017
The contradictory viewpoints between President and Secretary of State appear to be souring Trump’s opinion of Rex Tillerson.
Axios is reporting that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, may be the next top Trump administration official on his way out.
According to Axios, “there’s a ticking problem with Rex Tillerson, and it’s growing louder by the day, citing officials inside and close to the White House.”
President Trump has been growing increasingly frustrated with his Secretary of State. One time recently, after Trump had returned from a meeting on Afghanistan, a source recalled Trump saying, “Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.”
“Trump is getting more and more fed up with Tillerson, who has still yet to staff his agency.”
Here is Tillerson criticism list that Axios keeps hearing from Trump insiders…
- Trump administration officials can’t get their heads around why he still doesn’t have political appointees in the top roles at the State Department. They know he’s reorganizing the agency, but can’t fathom why he’s allowed these crucial jobs to remain in the hands of staff whose diplomatic stature is diminished because they’re “acting” in the roles.
- Tillerson’s spokesman R.C. Hammond told Axios it’s because “the system is busted. The Secretary sends over recommendations and they sit on the dock.”
- Tillerson hasn’t put in the time to build goodwill with Washington’s foreign policy community or with the media.
- Numerous reports that Tillerson has destroyed morale at State, empowering only the tiniest inner circle.
- Tillerson contradicted the president’s response to the recent tensions over Qatar.
- Trump attacked Qatar for funding terrorism “at a very high level”, and supported the Saudi-led blockade. Tillerson muddied Trump’s message, urging Qatar’s neighbors to ease up on the blockade and engage in “calm and thoughtful dialogue.”
- Hammond’s response: “On Qatar, progress will be measured in months and we are seeing it.”
- Tillerson argued against the White House’s financial sanctions against the dictatorial regime in Venezuela, according to sources close to the White House. These sources pointed to the influence on Tillerson of Tom Shannon, a top State careerist who is an expert on Latin America.
- Sources close to the president view Shannon as a rogue force who, in their view, naively puts too much faith in diplomacy at the expense of hardline actions like sanctions.
- Shannon’s recent meeting with Venezuela’s then-foreign minister — at the same time the WH was contemplating tough action against Venezuela — raised eyebrows among Republican hawks.
- Hammond’s response: “Yes, diplomats do prefer diplomacy.”
- Tillerson keeps recommending to Trump that he re-certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal; whereas Trump has made clear he wants to cancel it.
- Hammond’s response: “This admin inherited a lousy deal. It’s taking the circumstances created by the Deal and trying to build around it a policy that addresses all of the threats Iran offers the world.”
- White House officials frequently vent about Tillerson’s Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin. They say she’s difficult to work with and isolatesthe secretary from the information and contacts he needs to do his job well.
- Hammond’s response: “It is Washington, you have to have your knives out for someone.”
Is Rex Tillerson the Trump administration official to be fired?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.