U.S. Pacific Commander advocates diplomacy to resolve North Korea crisis
A diplomatic approach remains the best option to countering North Korea’s missile threats, according to U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., who called it “the most important starting point.”
Harris made his comments in late August 2017 while in South Korea to view the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), a joint exercise between the United States and Republic of Korea militaries.
Harris has deemed North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un as USPACOM’s biggest worry. Harris remains committed to a nonmilitary solution, however. “All options are on the table,” he said during a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in April 2017.
“We want to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses, not his knees,” Harris said during the hearing. “It’s critical that we’re guided by a strong sense of resolve, both privately and publicly, both diplomatically and militarily.”
(Pictured: U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., front and center, answers reporters’ questions at Osan Air Base in South Korea in August 2017.)
Just before the start of UFG, North Korea released propaganda video showing senior U.S. leaders, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, above flames. It warned U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s administration to keep “its eyes and ears open from now on,” CNN reported.
North Korea’s military stationed at the truce village of Panmunjom described the UFG drill as “reckless and aggressive” war maneuvers and threatened to stage a “ruthless retaliation” unless the U.S. heeded their warning, The Korea Herald newspaper reported.
Such rhetoric from North Korea has not altered U.S. strategy.
“We hope and we work for a diplomatic solution to the challenge presented by Kim Jong Un. A strong diplomatic effort, backed by a strong military effort, is key,” Harris said, according to CNN. “Credible combat power should be in support of diplomacy, not the other way around.”