Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s threat against North Korea was a bit of bluster that fell short of the example set by previous American presidents.
The Arizona Republican, one of Congress’ most vocal exponents of U.S. military power, told Phoenix radio station KTAR News 92.3 that Trump should be more measured in his rhetoric on North Korea.
“I take exception to the president’s comments because you got to be sure you can do what you say you’re going to do,” McCain said, referring to Trump’s Tuesday remark that North Korea “had best not make any more threats to the United States” or “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” (RELATED: Trump: North Korea Threats Will Be ‘Met With Fire And Fury’)
McCain said Trump should follow the example of President Theodore Roosevelt, who famously said the U.S. should speak softly, but carry a big stick.
“The great leaders I’ve seen don’t threaten unless they’re ready to act, and I’m not sure President Trump is ready to act,” McCain said.
Despite his admonishment to Trump, McCain himself has exchanged heated words with the North Korean regime. He called North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un a “crazy fat kid” in March, provoking an angry response from Pyongyang, which called the remark an insult to the regime’s “dignity” and a “grave provocation, little short of declaration of war.”
While he thought Trump’s “fire and fury” comments were out of line, McCain doubted the president’s comments had any implication for U.S policy going forward.
“It’s not terrible in what he [Trump] said,” the senator told KTAR. “It’s the classic Trump in that he overstates things.”
Trump’s warning to Kim Jong-un came after the Washington Post reported that North Korea had successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead. Arms experts also assess that the communist country has ballistic missiles that can deliver a nuclear payload to cities across the continental U.S.
The Trump administration has stopped short of initiating a military response to North Korea’s continued provocations, and has instead applied pressure on the regime through diplomatic channels and international sanctions.
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