Hurtling Toward ‘Fire and Fury’

Exclusive: Under congressional and media pressure to confront U.S. “adversaries,” President Trump alarmed the world with rash rhetoric about inflicting “fire and fury” on North Korea, a frightening prospect, says Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

“Be prepared, there is a small chance that our horrendous leadership could unknowingly lead us into World War III.” – Donald Trump, August 31, 2013

Like some demonic Hollywood director, President Trump keeps finding new ways to make us jump out of our seats, just when we think we’ve seen everything. On Tuesday, he outdid himself by twice pledging to meet any further North Korean threats to the United States “with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

His headline-grabbing comments were sufficiently incendiary that White House staffers rushed to reassure reporters (and the public) that the President was just improvising, not speaking from an approved script. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that the President simply meant to say that “the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack . . . So the American people should sleep well at night.”

People at home and around the world were rattled but not too alarmed, judging by the modest drop in stock prices on U.S. and foreign exchanges. North Korea responded to Trump’s threat with a threat of its own to vaporize Guam, yet no war broke out. So far, leaders of both countries, like taunting schoolboys, seem content to lob only harsh rhetoric across the ocean, not fully armed missiles.

It’s easy to discount Trump’s bluster, based on his long history of practicing the art of “bullshit.” Maybe he’s just trying to make Chinese leaders nervous about his intentions, so they try a little harder to rein in Pyongyang. Surely he understands by now just how devastating a war with North Korea would be, right?

I’m not so sure. What increasingly keep me up at night are the uncontradicted claims of one of the GOP’s leading foreign policy spokesmen, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, that Trump is ready and willing to launch a preemptive war…

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