Here's a simpler way to look at what we learned about the new President's foreign policy Tuesday: unenforced red lines in Syria and former President Barack Obama's "weakness" helped cause a chemical weapons attack are bad and no longer operable.
On the other hand, ominously, "the clock has now run out" on North Korea's nuclear program, although the US will not be commenting further on the nation's missile tests.
No doubt different crises call for different responses.
That's certainly true when it comes to chemical weapons attacks in Syria that target children and civilians that cause a direct and immediate threat to lives in a country ravaged by civil war compared to missile tests in North Korea that form a more existential threat in Asia.
But it bears mentioning that Trump's administration spent parts of Tuesday repeating campaign criticisms of the Obama administration for drawing a red line in Syria while on the same day a senior White House official, speaking anonymously to reporters, issued the warning to North Korea.
"The clock has now run out, and all options are on the table," is the exact quote.
That's no red line, for sure. But it does tease some sort of impending action. It should be noted that the official statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was more dismissive, but also difficult to decipher, as
Trump is set for his first meeting later this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, where he's expected to make the case for stronger Chinese influence over North Korea.
There are different stakes and different players in the case of Syria, but there, the White House finds itself retreating from a red line drawn by the Obama administration