Mattis has a crucial task -- stopping Trump from going to war with North Korea

Defense Secretary James Mattis begins his second year in the Trump Administration with perhaps just one absolutely crucial task -- stopping President Donald Trump from going to war against North Korea.

Along with Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mattis will spend the next few weeks walking a fine line. The two must assure the President that there are credible US military options to stop North Korea if it comes to war and they launch a missile at the US or an ally, while at the same time continuing to make clear what a disaster a war would be.
How both men navigate this political minefield in the second year of the Trump White House may move them far outside the cocoon-like zone they operated in during the first year of the administration when they kept largely out of the public eye.
The urgency of the situation is growing in some quarters of the administration as concern about Kim Jong Un increases. Look no further than a recent statement by CIA Director Mike Pompeo who told a Washington audience last week that "North Korea is ever closer to being able to hold America at risk." The CIA has concluded that North Korea could be just a "handful of months" away from being able to put a nuclear warhead atop a missile that could hit the US.