The news today just turned hot. After a slow morning, we are bumping into the reason we are iffy about having Donald Trump as commander in chief. The previously ostracized and largely invisible Rex Tillerson just made big news by declaring that the US will no longer practice strategic patience vis a vis North Korea. Then he got iffy. But the point was made. He would have had to present an olive branch to create a different conclusion. Trump has signaled already that he wants to be tough on North Korea. Just as he has made it chillingly clear that on certain days he is ready to take on Islam -- all Islam.

Unpacking the Tillerson tea leaves

As usual, when there is big news, the New York Times has offered a carefully sourced summary of what went down.

The toughening up of the US position included rejecting talks with the North Korea government, just as Obama had done. That predictable stance was followed by Tillerson's vague but ominous suggestion that we might have to take preemptive action. Tillerson still has a visit to China on the drawing board. How militant he will be in Beijing is anyone's guess. Is Tillerson speaking for Trump whose conduct toward his Secretary of State has been rude and excluding? The answer presumably is yes.

Trump escapes yet again

Just when the President seems slated to get a comeuppance for silliness like his weird charges against Obama, alleging he was wiretapped by the man he had already savaged multiple times, Trump is now a key player on the world stage.

It must make him feel his oats. It is consistent with a Trump strategy from way back. When being chased, change the narrative.

A perfect storm?

The North Korea situation has generally been regarded by all concerned as insoluble.

A dictatorial nation that cares only for its own survival and seeks nothing but respect for its capacities is not exactly open to a deal from any side. This is a 'my way' position. North Korea proceeds to create weapons that are claimed to have the capacity to reach the US. The fact that we now have a president willing to risk the prospect of widening war to put the hammer down is a change that nobody will miss.

There is nothing about this perfect storm that encourages confidence.

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