Tillerson: ‘American People Should Sleep Well at Night’ | The Weekly Standard

Tillerson: 'American People Should Sleep Well at Night' | The Weekly Standard.

The secretary of state tries to walk back the president’s North Korea statement.
After President Donald Trump shocked his national security team with his off-the-cuff fire-and-fury remarks about North Korea on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is trying to walk back his boss’s comments—without saying Trump was off base.

“What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson told pool reporters Wednesday morning.

Tillerson hedged further: “I think what the president was just reaffirming is that the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack, and our allies, and we will do so. So the American people

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. AP Photo/Dave Einsel
After President Donald Trump shocked his national security team with his off-the-cuff fire-and-fury remarks about North Korea on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is trying to walk back his boss’s comments—without saying Trump was off base.

“What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson told pool reporters Wednesday morning.

Tillerson hedged further: “I think what the president was just reaffirming is that the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack, and our allies, and we will do so. So the American people should sleep well at night.”

This, of course, is a very loose reading of the president’s remarks, which seemed to promise military retaliation if North Korea continues to make defiant public statements against the West.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said from his New Jersey golf course Tuesday. “They will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued his own warning that North Korea would only be hurt by further escalation:

“The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack,” Mattis said. “While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed, and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the more hawkish minds on Capitol Hill, said Wednesday that war with North Korea was still “absolutely” a possibility.

“President Trump has basically drawn a red line saying that he’ll never allow North Korea to have an ICBM missile that can hit America, with a nuclear weapon on top,” Graham told CBS News. “He’s not going to contain the threat. He’s going to stop the threat.”

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