Dear Commons Community,
President Donald Trump drew attention from around the world on Tuesday with his statement that “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.”
But it turns out that Trump’s “fire and fury” line was actually completely improvised, as reported by the New York Times:
“The president’s language, which aides say he had used in private, escalated the long-running dispute with North Korea to a new level and left members of the Trump administration scrambling on Wednesday to explain what he meant.
But the process, or lack of one, that led to the ad-libbed comments embodied Mr. Trump’s overall approach to foreign policy, an improvisational style that often leaves his national security team in the dark about what he is going to say or do, according to several people with direct knowledge of how the episode unfolded.
The president was in a confrontational mood on Tuesday afternoon after The Washington Post reported that Pyongyang had developed nuclear warheads small enough to be placed on ballistic missiles. His team assumed that he would be asked about North Korea during a scheduled media appearance tied to a meeting the president was planning to hold at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., about the opioid epidemic.
But during a conference call beforehand that focused on North Korea, Mr. Trump did not offer a preview of what he planned to say — and aides did not press the president, who resists being told what to say, even on a tinderbox issue that has induced his predecessors to seek the safety of a script.
He told his aides only that he wanted to signal to Mr. Kim, the North Korean leader, that he was not backing down — while turning up the pressure he has tried to place on China to tame its troublesome neighbor and on-and-off ally.
Mr. Trump’s aides braced as he began to speak at the opioid event — his arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table where he was sitting. The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to quell concerns of any retaliation from Pyongyang after Trump’s remarks by saying, “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days.”
The quick improvisation has also kept up tensions in the White House and the debate between General H.R. McMaster and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon about how to deal with North Korea.
So while we debate on the best course of action to take with North Korea, there is no debate that Trump’s “fire and fury” line was planned… because apparently it wasn’t.
It’s also been pointed out that the line is eerily similar to the statement former President Harry Truman delivered to the country and the world that the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Japan in August 1945.
“If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth,” said Truman.”
This is the second day in a row that my postings concluded with a quote from Harry S. Truman.