President Donald Trump’s stark warning to North Korea Tuesday echoes those of a former U.S. president who had to make a tough call about the use of nuclear weapons against a fierce and dangerous enemy.
North Korea has developed the ability to conduct nuclear strikes against the U.S. and its allies, which has escalated the threat level to the U.S. For years, North Korea has threatened to turn the U.S. and its friends into seas of fire and flame, but North Korea has turned what was once just rhetoric into a dangerous reality.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump declared Tuesday. “They will be met with the fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with the fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Trump’s statement is distinctly similar to that of former President Harry Truman, when he addressed the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.
“If they do not now accept our terms,” Truman said on Aug. 6, 1945 after the bombing, “they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as which they have not yet seen.”
Trump faces one of the defining moments of his presidency with North Korea.
Will the Trump administration pursue dialogue and achieve a diplomatic situation in North Korea? It’s unlikely as North Korea has made it clear that it will never negotiate away its nuclear weapons. Will Trump call for a military solution and the deaths of millions of people in multiple countries? Perhaps, but senior administration officials recognize that an armed conflict on the peninsula would be, in the words of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” Will the administration simply try to kick the situation down the road to the next president, dismissing the threat? It’s unclear, but how the president handles this crisis matters as North Korea prepares to cross a key threshold and become a fully-armed nuclear state.
North Korea warned Monday that the U.S. will “pay dearly” for its assault on the country. “Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation,” North Korean state media wrote in response to new United Nations sanctions, “They should be mindful that the DPRK’s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength.”
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