US ambassador Joe Hockey warns North Korea crisis 'has to come to a head'
December 8 2017
Australia's ambassador to Washington, Joe Hockey, has predicted the North Korea standoff "has to come to a head" – including possibly through military action – and firmly backed President Donald Trump's "unconventional" approach to the nuclear crisis.
Mr Hockey also said during a visit to Canberra on Friday that Australian cities were targets for the hermit regime of Kim Jong-un and needed to be protected.
"Rolling over and tickling the tummy of Kim Jong-un is not the answer. It's just not," he said. "We're a target. Our cities are targets. Our people are targets. This guy's unhinged and we've got to protect our people as the United States has to protect its people."
Mr Hockey effectively defended what some commentators have branded Mr Trump's "mad man theory" approach - acting unconventionally to break the previous patterns of predictability that had failed to curb the regime's nuclear program.
This unconventional approach had helped push China into doing more to impose pressure on its neighbour - which depends overwhelmingly on China for its economic activity - through sanctions.
"You've got to be unconventional because conventional, traditional channels are not working in certain areas," he said.
"History tells us a lesson that you can't let crazy people have weapons that can cause enormous harm and have a displayed history of being fearless in the deployment of weapons against even his own family as Kim Jong-un has done. And it has to come to a head."
"Such a disparate country with so many different interests ... can't be led. It can be governed. And in that sense, Donald Trump is reacting to the mood of the people," he said.
With wealth and education divides much wider than they were in Australia – the former divide wider than it had been since the 1920s – a "huge amount of steam" had been released and "thank god it went off in the election", he addded.
He pointed out that more Americans died in the Civil War than all other wars it had fought in combined. Asked whether he thought whether US society was headed in that direction again, he said: "No, but I would never for a second underestimate the capacity for that nation to be divided."
Mr Hockey said the Australian reaction to foreign influence – particularly focussing on China – was being "very closely watched" in Washington.
"Americans raise it with me all the time, because it's also directly related to any potential shift by their closest ally towards China," he said.
He said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a "closer and more respectful relationship" with Mr Trump than almost any other world leader.