As Tillerson Downplays North Korea Threat, White House Continues to Escalate Tensions

So much for sleeping well at night.

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to downplay any “imminent” threat of war with North Korea, White House adviser Sebastian Gorka on Wednesday continued to fan the flames with a starkly different message that mirrored the president’s pugnacious remarks the day before.

“He’s saying don’t test America, and don’t test Donald J. Trump,” Gorka said on Fox & Friends. “We are not just a superpower. We were a superpower—we are now a hyperpower. Nobody in the world, especially not North Korea, comes close to challenging our military capabilities, whether they’re conventional, nuclear, or whether they’re special forces.”

He added, “The message is very clear: Don’t test this White House.” 

Gorka’s warning comes amid heightened fears of potential war with North Korea, after President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised to unleash “fire and fury” in retaliation against North Korea’s ongoing threats against the United States and its allies. Trump’s remarks were swiftly condemned by lawmakers and foreign policy experts, who warned the president’s rhetoric could aggravate the already volatile situation.

Tillerson on Wednesday defended Trump’s comments, claiming there were no signs that any looming threat from North Korea had “dramatically changed” over the past 24 hours. “Americans should sleep well at night,” he told reporters on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, North Korea announced it is considering a military strike on Guam, where the United States maintains major military bases. 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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