I've always wondered how much the great Official Announcement Kabuki Dance really matters. That is, when administration officials say words like "no hostile intent," is that really all that different from saying "we do not intend to invade"? When China and the White House put out carefully-phrased—oh-so-carefully-phrased—statements on Taiwan, are they actually saying
anything or just going through tedious formalities?
Ah, but now we find that it does
makes a difference to North Korea, who apparently monitors this stuff full-time. Fascinating catch
by the Post
's Glenn Kessler. Note also that Powell and Rumsfeld were very, very specific about including or excluding particular phrases like "no hostile intent", though it doesn't appear that they're fully aware of how closely North Korea follows this stuff.