White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Wednesday there is no military solution to the North Korea problem and China cannot realistically be expected to help.
As tensions between Washington and Pyongyang skyrocketed last week, President Donald Trump warned North Korea that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” to rain down “fire and fury“on the rogue regime if North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un fails to change course.
“While diplomacy is our preferred means of changing North Korea’s course of action, it is backed by military options,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in a joint article Monday.
Bannon, however, asserts that there is no military option.
“There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it,” Bannon revealed to Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect in a rare interview. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
He also argued that expectations of real assistance from China are unrealistic, stressing that the U.S. and China are in an fight for hegemonic status. “One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path,” he explained, “We’re at economic war with China.”
While the White House’s chief strategist may be correct in his assessment of the situation on the peninsula, it may have been counterproductive to say it aloud, as he essentially revealed the president’s hand to North Korean leadership, inevitably complicating future standoffs.
The U.S. and North Korea found themselves in a shouting match last week as the North threatened to fire missiles towards Guam, home to over one hundred thousand civilians and numerous strategic military assets. Trump warned that Kim would regret it if he miscalculated and misjudged America’s resolve.
North Korea backed down this time, but tensions are expected to rise again when U.S. and South Korean war games start up next week.
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