Trump steps up war of words
He assures Americans they can relax, and it’s North Korea that should worry
Meanwhile, Guam is caught in the middle,
President Trump doubled down on his threats to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, pushing back Thursday against criticism that his aggressive rhetoric might backfire and inflame tensions.
“Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said of his previous statement.
“It’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries,” Trump said, “so if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough. And we’re backed 100% by our military.”
Asked what could be tougher than “fire and fury,” Trump said only, “You’ll see. You’ll see.”
Trump said he would consider negotiations with North Korea and declined to discuss the pos- sibility of a pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang: “We don’t talk about that. We never do.”
The president’s comments came two days after he warned North Korea against persisting in aggressive behavior against the United States. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said Tuesday. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
In the history of presidential threats, that language was “off the charts,” said B. Dan Wood, a Texas A&M University professor who has cataloged 4,269 presidential threats against 19 countries for his book Presidential Saber Rattling: Causes and Consequences.
Such language “won’t get him anywhere but an increasing escalation and increasing hostility,” Wood said. “It has been and always will be a failed strategy.”
Indeed, North Korea’s top general escalated the tensions by saying he was drawing up plans to attack the U.S. territory of Guam with four ballistic missiles. Trump responded that if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea.”
“That’s not a dare. It’s a statement,” he said.
Trump spoke at his Bedminster National Golf Club after meeting with Vice President Pence, Chief of Staff John Kelly, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Trump said Americans who are concerned about the standoff should be “very comfortable.”
“If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attacking anybody that we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous,” he said. “Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK? He’s been pushing the world around for a long time.”
Trump said he is pushing China, North Korea’s ally, to do more to defuse tensions.
“I think China can do a lot more, yes, China can. And I think China will do a lot more,” he said. “Look, we have trade with China. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China.
“They know how I feel. It’s not going to continue like that. But if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade, a lot differently toward trade.”
“It’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries.” President Trump
Trump says he’s secure in the “100%” backing of the military.