World leaders express alarm over escalating rhetoric
Trump: Maybe ‘Fire and Fury’ Comments Weren’t Tough Enough
President Donald Trump warned Friday that U.S. military resources were in place, “locked and loaded,” should North Korea “act unwisely,” as foreign leaders called on Washington and Pyongyang to end a cycle of rhetorical threats raising the specter of nuclear war.
Mr. Trump made the comments in a tweet early Friday from a working vacation at his golf course in New Jersey. He later told reporters the U.S. is looking carefully at military options and said North Korea would face “big, big trouble” if it attacked the U.S. territory of Guam, which Kim Jong Un’s regime has threatened.
“I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said,” Mr. Trump said. “And what I said is what I mean.”
Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later spoke by phone and Mr. Xi urged restraint in dealing with North Korea.
The president hasn’t specified which precise actions by North Korea would trigger a U.S. response, heightening the unpredictability in the standoff with Pyongyang.
The result is a sense of uncertainty that has drawn comparisons to what Richard Nixon called “the madman theory”—the tactic of coercing an adversary into negotiations by signaling the U.S. president is sufficiently unhinged to carry out a catastrophic attack.
When Mr. Trump said this past this week that North Korea would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” many interpreted his comment as a threat of nuclear warfare, a departure from decades of restraint by U.S. presidents when discussing the possibility of Washington once againusing nuclear arms.
Historians say Mr. Trump’s behavior differs from Nixon’s attempts to execute the madman theory, in part because the late president tended to send his signals through military movements and undisclosed messages. They also said Nixon’s messages and actions were carefully calibrated, in contrast to the sometimes dissonantstatementscoming from the Trump administration about North Korea.