Donald Trump is meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Florida this week, in what should be a tense encounter, given Trump’s anti-China rhetoric during his campaign. On the eve of this meeting, North Korea exercised its military “might” by launching a ballistic missile into the sea – an act designed to ensure heightened attention to North Korea by the United States and China during their upcoming meeting.
How did secretary of state Rex Tillerson respond to this act of aggression? According to CNN, in an “incredibly odd” and “confusing” fashion. Tillerson’s entire response consisted of the following statement, without elaboration: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”
Said CNN: “That’s a total of 23 words, if you’re counting. Twenty-three words that leave you more confused when you get to the end of them than when you started. Is Tillerson trying to talk tough? Or is he refusing to give North Korea the attention he thinks they’re trying to grab in advance of the US-China meeting? Somewhere in between? Neither? Both?”
Given Tillerson’s stated lack of interest in his job as secretary of state, it may just be that Tillerson really does have no comment.