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Last Thursday, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis testified before the House Appropriations Committee and asked Congress to pass the Pentagon’s budget. He also answered some questions of the reps as they pertained to other things.

One of them was North Korea.

Rep. Tim Ryan specifically asked the former U.S. Marine Corps general about a potential war with North Korea.

“Mad Dog” didn’t pull any punches.

“I would suggest that we will win. It will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we’ve seen since 1953,” he said.

“It will involve massive shelling of an ally’s capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth. It would be a war that fundamentally we don’t want [but] we would win at great cost.”

Watch these comments and more in this bookmarked clip:

Here’s a little bit more context (you could also call them “twists”?) …

South Korea, per their president Moon Jae-in, doesn’t really want Washington meddling as much anymore in their ongoing fight against the threat to their immediate north (via The New York Times):

Mr. Moon has called himself “America’s friend,” grateful that the United States protected South Korea from communism and supported its economic growth and democratization. The alliance with Washington is “a pillar of our diplomacy,” he said in an interview on the eve of Ms. Park’s court-ordered ouster.

But he also said in a recently published book that South Korea should learn to “say no to the Americans.”

Then there’s Washington itself — i.e. the White House. And China.

China is North Korea’s only major trading partner (their back-and-forth actually increased in the early part of this year) but there has been nothing out of Beijing to indicate they’re threatening any economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

Which is to say, put all of these elements together and it’s truly anyone’s guess whether existing tensions turns into a real military conflict.

Here’s to hoping Mattis’ words are heeded, rather than ignored.