North Korea just called Trump’s bluff. So what happens now?

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
August 9, 2017

Yesterday, President Trump took a break from his 17-day vacation to threaten North Korea. His words:

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with 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 fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.

This threat was a response to a continuing series of provocations by North Korea. However, it only took a couple of hours for North Korea to respond — by escalating their threats. North Korea’s official news agency reported a couple of hours later that Pyongyang was “threatening” missile strikes near Guam, where the U.S. has several military bases.

This faces the U.S. with a problem. U.S. leaders have traditionally been careful with their language, especially when dealing with nuclear powers, and for good reason. If the U.S. cares about its credibility, then it only wants to make threats that it will deliver on. Now, North Korea has effectively called Trump’s bluff. If the U.S. responds as Trump has promised, it will mark a very dangerous escalation. If the U.S. does not respond, then Trump’s credibility — and perhaps U.S. credibility — will be damaged.

Escalation can be a very bad thing

Nuclear weapons are the most devastating kinetic weapons known to man. While fears of a mutual conflagration that would destroy human life on this planet have diminished, even a limited nuclear war could cause millions of human deaths.

Read the full piece at The Washington Post