by WorldTribune Staff, August 15, 2017
After being derided for excessive rhetoric by his domestic critics, U.S. President Donald Trump and his equally-tough generals appear to have prevailed, for the moment, in the war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
After a heated exchange of rhetoric between Trump and Kim, the North on Aug. 14 backed down from its threat to fire missiles at Guam, reports said.
Kim, after a “briefing” from his military brass, said he would watch Trump’s behavior “a little more,” but will make an “important” decision if the U.S. continues its “extremely dangerous reckless actions” on the divided peninsula, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” against the North and his declaration that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” was widely criticized by politicians from both parties and by the major media.
Former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice accused the president of escalating the situation and even suggested appeasement: “[W]e can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea.”
Kim made the comments on Aug. 14 during an inspection of the Strategic Force command which threatened last week to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards Guam, according to a Yonhap report.
The Strategic Force had said that the Hwasong-12 missiles would fly over Japan and splash down 30-40 kilometers from Guam in the western Pacific.
“In order to defuse the tension and prevent dangerous military conflict on the Korean Peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action,” Kim said.
“If the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the [North] will make an important decision as it already declared,” he said.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a visit to Seoul that military options would come only after sanctions fail.
Dunford, however, made it clear that the U.S. is ready to make a “decisive” military response to Pyongyang’s possible missile strikes near Guam.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also warned on Aug. 14 that the U.S. will go to war with the North if it fires missiles at Guam.
The withdrawal of the threat on the U.S. territory was seen as a major victory for the Trump administration as it occurred without any concessions on Trump’s part.
“Trump’s method of one-upping Kim Jong-Un . . . seems to have worked, as Trump cast himself as even more unpredictable than the infamously impetuous tyrant,” Joel Pollak wrote for Breitbart.
“He also pressured China diplomatically to squeeze North Korea, which also worked: the Chinese suggested last week that they would not defend North Korea if it attacked the U.S., as long as the anticipated U.S. retaliation did not actually try to end the regime itself.”