On Tillerson's "until the first bomb drops" comment

The cable news talking heads are all abuzz this morning over Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s CNN interview yesterday. Most of the hot takes focused on the did he or didn’t he question regarding the alleged “moron” statement. (Allahpundit covered that one yesterday.) But the other juicy bit dealt with the future of diplomatic negotiations regarding North Korea.

As you may have heard by now, when asked if there was still a peaceful path forward, Tillerson stated that diplomacy was on the table, “until the first bomb drops.” That’s a rather unfortunate way to word it in today’s overheated political landscape, but when looked at in context it’s little more than business as usual. (Associated Press)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the North Korean crisis “will continue until the first bomb drops.”

That statement comes despite President Donald Trump’s tweets a couple of weeks ago that his chief envoy was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man,” a mocking nickname Trump has given the nuclear-armed nation’s leader Kim Jong Un.

“I think he does want to be clear with Kim Jong Un and that regime in North Korea that he has military preparations ready to go and he has those military options on the table. And we have spent substantial time actually perfecting those,” Tillerson told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“But be clear: The president has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically. He’s not seeking to go to war,” Tillerson said.

The actual line in question came a bit later in the conversation, but that excerpt was really the bit that laid the groundwork for it. By the time the Secretary of State got around to dropping the rhetorical bomb it should have already been defused. He said that the President, “has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts, which we are, and I’ve told others those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Sadly for Rex, those last five words make for a great headline and they’re blowing up on social media (if you’ll pardon the pun). That’s excusable to a certain degree. When you say until the bomb drops rather than unless the bomb drops you make it sound like more of a foregone conclusion. And he’s not exactly being specific about who might be dropping that first bomb… us or them.

But in the end, let’s remind ourselves that this isn’t an interview with the President. Tillerson is the Secretary of State and he doesn’t have the power to declare war. In fact, his job is essentially the opposite. He should be flogging the diplomacy horse as long as it has a pulse and not give up on that effort until and unless the North Koreans launch an attack or Trump decides to initiate hostilities on his own.

In the meantime, both Trump and Tillerson have to be getting the impression that the latest round of sanctions is at least doing something. Word on the Asian street is that Kim Jong-un is so desperate for money that he’s opening up racetrack gambling in his nation. (Reuters)

Punters in North Korea who once risked three years hard labor for gambling are now able to bet on local horse races as the isolated country scrambles to unearth new sources of hard currency amid intensifying international sanctions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been building resorts, swimming pools and other luxurious leisure facilities in what experts say is a bid to capture some of the individual wealth generated by growing private markets for goods and services.

You know, that’s just a stellar idea. It’s no wonder that North Korea is so amazingly successful with leadership like this. What’s the best thing you could do for a nation full of people who are literally starving to death in their fields! Give them a chance to squander what few pennies they have left on a brand new gambling addiction? But don’t let the odds bother you. If you don’t play you can’t win, right?