President Trump touting his mental health as proof that he can solve the North Korea crisis notwithstanding, a New York Times report seems to indicate that Pentagon officials think otherwise. Following Trump’s worrisome “fire and fury” comments and his boasts about having a “bigger and more powerful” nuclear button, sources indicate that cabinet officials like National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and State Secretary Rex Tillerson are demanding “more options” for possible “military action” against North Korea.
According to the report, McMaster “believes that for Mr. Trump’s warnings to North Korea to be credible, the United States must have well-developed military plans.” Pentagon officials, however, worry the administration “is moving too hastily toward military action.” These tensions recently came to a head when Trump’s pick for ambassador to South Korea was booted, prompting a biting op-ed in the Washington Post. Yet they previously boiled over after a conference call held regarding North Korea’s ballistic missile test in July:
Mr. Mattis and Mr. Tillerson continued to speak, not realizing that other participants were still on the line. The officials familiar with the matter overheard them complaining about a series of meetings that the National Security Council had set up to consider options for North Korea — signs, Mr. Tillerson said, that it was becoming overly aggressive.
Diplomacy continues to be an option — especially for Mattis and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., who have “[argued] forcefully for using diplomacy.” Even so, officials familiar with the above call and other discussions between White House and Pentagon officials seem to suggest that the latter may “have slow-walked options” to the latter, thereby prompting the administration’s frustrations and demands for more military strategies.
(Via New York Times)