Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rex-it

He wasn’t as dramatic as Granny and her bungled “reset” button schtick with the Russians or as ludicrous as John Kerry’s stunt of bringing James Taylor to Paris following the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
Rex Tillerson never really seemed at ease in his public role as Secretary of State. He did precious few interviews and even fewer press conferences. This made it difficult for the country to get a sense of who he was as America’s top diplomat.  He leaves Foggy Bottom without any banner diplomatic achievements.
Late-night hosts had a lot of fun with the news that Tillerson had been fired.  Seth Meyers, comedian and host of “Late Night” observed, “He had the energy of 14-year-old bloodhound on his third mint julep.”  It’s hard to argue with that visual.
In October of 2017, NBC News alleged Tillerson had been overheard calling President Trump a “fucking moron.”  In an effort to quell the firestorm that ensued, he held a press conference to “clean up” the hysteria by denying he’d trashed his boss.  Rather than setting the record straight, he instead complained. “This is what I don’t understand about Washington.  I’m not from this place, but the places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty stuff.”
That same month the President tweeted:
Tillerson had been an early advocate of talks with North Korea.  Differences over how to deal with the nuclear challenge led to a fear he was much too willing to make concessions to Kim Jong Un.
In April 2017, Tillerson speaking during a news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, “The diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearization have failed.  The United States provided $1.35 billion dollars in food aid and energy assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway.  That encouragement has been met with further development of nuclear capabilities, more missile launches.”
Analysts, the same eggheads who can’t park a bicycle straight, contend when it comes to a North Korea policy “there are no new options to try.”
The U.S., South Korea, Japan, China and Russia tried repeatedly to negotiate a solution with Pyongyang during Six-Party Talks, which began in 2003.
In November of 2017, after North Korea fired what appeared to be a new type of inter-continental ballistic missile, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned the UN Security Council, “We have never sought war with North Korea and still today we do not seek it.  If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday. And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed. The nations of the world have it within their power to further isolate, diminish and, God willing, reverse the dangerous course of the North Korean regime."
On the day President Trump addressed CPAC, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the heaviest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea.
The Kim regime operates as an extortion racket, feeding off not just its own people, but a global black market in arms, drugs, sex trafficking and counterfeiting. It has been willing to starve its own people in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, which it sees as the only guarantor of its sovereignty. Our negotiators should understand the monstrosity they’re dealing with.
Kim’s offer to meet with President Trump, I believe, is a direct result of the President’s stern warning, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States…they will be met with fire and fury, and frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen.”
Haley’s promise to “utterly destroy” the hermit nation and the toughened sanctions imposed by Treasury in February helped bring Kim to the brink of negotiations.
President Trump’s shift to Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State came not a moment too soon.  South Korean officials have been working for quite some time with Pompeo as the State Department under Tillerson became increasingly sidelined.
Pompeo’s forceful personality will undoubtedly make the United States more visible than it was under Tillerson, the most reclusive Secretary of State in modern memory.  He already has a good working relationship with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford and will prove critical in diplomatic initiatives seeking an end to the nuclear standoff in North Korea and the gruesome war in Syria.

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