In his first overseas visit, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis both calmed the jitters of South Korea and Japan while putting North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un on notice: The U.S. will not put up with Kim’s madman rhetoric and destabilizing threats of nuclear deployment.
Speaking jointly with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo in Seoul on Friday, Mattis made it clear that the U.S. will stand solidly with allies in the region against North Korean aggression and that no show of force from North Korea will be tolerated, according to Newsmax.
“America’s commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad: Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said.
Former President Barack Obama left quite a mess for Mattis to clean up. While Obama, seemingly incapable of attending to two things at once, was chasing a nuclear deal with Iran, North Korea’s Kim was ramping up his own nuclear program and ranting about attacking the U.S.
The region is a powder keg. North Korea has made a series of increasing successful ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests, according to Politico, and the country now boasts that it can put a hydrogen bomb atop a long-range missile.
“North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by. Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama’s weakness,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in January 2016, according to The Washington Post.
Obama’s policy failures extend to China, widely recognized as North Korea’s protector and largest trading partner.
Obama “should immediately make full use of the sanctions authorities Congress gave him earlier this year, and he should join me in urging China, as Pyongyang’s chief sponsor, to fully enforce the international sanctions on the Kim regime,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in September, according to The Washington Times.
In Seoul, Mattis did not mince words, and his message was as much for Kim Jong Un as for our allies, making it clear that any use of nuclear weapons on the U.S. or its allies would be met with an “effective and overwhelming” response.