Mattis quickly walks back Trump’s bellicose tweet about North Korea

Who exactly is the president speaking for?

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted that he does not think diplomacy will be able to solve the North Korea crisis.

“Talking is not the answer!” Trump wrote.

The president’s tweet comes on the heels of yet another North Korea missile launch — this one right over Japan. According to CNN, “North Korea’s launch of a missile over Japan was a prelude to more military operations directed at the American territory of Guam, North Korean state media warned Wednesday.” It was also the first missile launch from North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang.


Trump may think the time for talk is over, but his position was quickly walked back by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who told reporters later Wednesday morning that “[w]e’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”

Mattis isn’t the only Cabinet official contradicting the president’s bellicose rhetoric about North Korea, which reached a new level earlier this month when Trump threatened nuclear strikes against North Korea if Kim Jong-un doesn’t stop issuing threats of his own.

During a Fox News interview last Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said his State Department will “continue our peaceful pressure campaign as I have described that 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 the different future for (the) Korean Peninsula and for North Korea.”

Tillerson, during that same interview, drew a bright line between “America’s values” and those personally expressed by Trump.

Trump’s strident rhetoric comes despite former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s acknowledgement shortly before he left the Trump administration that there’s no military solution to the North Korea crisis. Wednesday also marks two weeks to the day since Trump praised King Jong-un for backing down on threats to strike Guam with a missile.