Trump and Mattis not on the same Hymn Sheet over North Korea: South Korea and Japan

Trump and Mattis not on the same Hymn Sheet over North Korea: South Korea and Japan

Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

It appears that North Korea is intent on upping the ante against the policies of America and South Korea, in relation to Washington’s geopolitical objectives on the Korean Peninsula. This is a very dangerous game because it means that China and the Russian Federation will have limited opportunities in restraining North Korea. Indeed, it is debatable about how much sway they have with the current regime in Pyongyang. After all, the current leader of North Korea is increasingly irrational. However, it is better to have part of a door open, rather than it being fully closed for North Korea.

The latest banging of the military drum by North Korea, after the suspected Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile flying over northern Japan, sums up the current regime in Pyongyang. In other words, it appears that North Korea is upping the ante beyond any reasonable self-reasoning.

Of course, elites in Pyongyang will argue that America is increasing tensions by installing state-of-the-art military hardware to South Korea and holding military threatening maneuvers aimed at North Korea throughout the region. This applies to South Korea and military maneuvers in northern Japan. However, the ballistic missile over Japan is clearly upping the tensions to a new level and the same applies to North Korea threatening Guam.

Hence, given the complexities of the Korean Peninsula and the behavior of North Korea, a united President Donald Trump administration is needed. Yet, this isn’t forthcoming because Trump and Jim Mattis, the United States Defense Secretary, are not speaking from the same hymn sheet. Indeed, other moderate voices exist within the Trump administration that appears to contradict the words of Trump.

For example, Trump said, “talking is not the answer” because “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years.”

Trump had earlier stated, “All options are on the table,” implying pre-emptive military strikes against North Korea.

However, Mattis implied the opposite after talks with his South Korean counterpart. Mattis said, “We are never out of diplomatic solutions… We continue to work together, and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests.”

In other words, it appears that Trump and senior officials inside his administration are not on the same hymn sheet. This in itself is creating further confusion at a time when clarity is needed for South Korea and Japan – rather than contrary statements coming out of the corridors of power in Washington.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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