Tensions Tighten as Trump Talks “Fire and Fury”

Words could lead to war - “Mr. Trump is president of the United States, and if prudent, disciplined leadership was ever required, it is now,” reports The New York Times Editorial Board. “He commands the most powerful nuclear and conventional arsenal in the world, and any miscalculation could be catastrophic. Mr. Trump’s comments heightened fears in the region and provided more fodder for hawks in South Korea and Japan who are pressing their governments to beef up defenses or even develop their own nuclear weapons.”

--“Since Truman, presidents have largely avoided the kind of militaristic threats issued by Mr. Trump because they feared such language could escalate a crisis. Mr. Trump has again made himself the focus of attention, when it should be Kim Jong-un... and his accelerating nuclear program that... may have succeeded in miniaturizing a warhead to fit on a missile. Tougher sanctions, coupled with Mr. Tillerson’s continued efforts at a diplomatic solution, are the best path to a peaceful end to this conflict. That is what Mr. Trump should also be focused on. Engaging in a war of words with North Korea only makes it harder for both sides to de-escalate.” For the full article, click here.

See also - The New York Times’ “The Daily” Podcast today focuses on North Korea. Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry joins host, Michael Barbaro, and talks about his experience in North Korea and the dangers of war here.

Tweet - @Liveableworld: Council executive director @RepTierney: Trump's threats fuel North Korea #nuclear tensions http://bit.ly/2vSrgJk

Kim’s plan targets Guam - “North Korea will develop a plan by mid-August to launch four intermediate range missiles at the U.S. territory of Guam before presenting it to leader Kim Jong Un who will make a decision on whether to proceed, the North's state media said on Thursday,” write Christine Kim and Soyoung Kim for Reuters. “The North Korean army is developing a plan ‘in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the United States,’ the KCNA report said. ‘Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,’ it said of Trump, adding that it will keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the United States.” Full article here.

See also - “Trump's North Korea Threats Make for a 'Very Dangerous Moment'” by Jefferson Morley for Alternet here.

Nuclear experts take on North Korea crisis - We have compiled media hits of the best expert analysis on the escalatory actions and rhetoric of President Trump and North Korea over the past few days.

--Joe Cirincione discusses the dangers developing from Trump’s bombastic language on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, “With stakes high, Trump loses cool in face of North Korea threats” here.

--Tom Collina talks with Brooke Baldwin on CNN about the dangers of nuclear weapons being in the hands of these two leaders here.

--Tom Collina talks “Nuclear Capabilities And The Nixon Defense” with Mitch Jeserich on 94.1 KFPA’s Letters and Politics here.

--Jon Wolfsthal discusses President Trump’s rhetoric in response North Korean threats on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews here.

--Melissa Hanham and Ambassador Wendy Sherman appear on PBS Newshour to explain North Korea’s missile capabilities and nuclear program here.

--Daryl Kimball discusses the North Korean nuclear program and their recent progression on C-SPAN here.

--Daryl Kimball also appears on CNBC to talk about the recent escalation of tension between the U.S. and North Korea here.

--Paul Carroll appears on CNN to talk about Trump’s remarks about the North Korean threat and the need for diplomacy here and here.

--Joel Wit discusses Trump’s recent commentary on WNYC’s Takeaway for Public Radio International, “A Plea to 'Cool It' With the 'Fire and Fury'” here.

Trump must open a dialogue - “North Korea has been blowing through President Donald Trump’s redlines like they’re made of tissue paper. Now Trump’s bluster threatens to launch the United States into a catastrophic war,” writes Joe Cirincione for New York Daily News. “Instead of imitating North Korea bombast with threats of ‘fire and fury,’ we should immediately open a dialogue with North Korea. Not negotiations, but channels at multiple levels to avoid miscalculations and misunderstandings that could escalate into uncontrolled warfare.”

--“Such a dialogue might lead to genuine talks. We need those to solve this crisis. The UN resolution passed this weekend levels major new sanctions on North Korea. Ambassador Nikki Haley deftly negotiated this major diplomatic victory, giving us a big stick to use. But it will be completely ineffective if not met with incentives and calm negotiations.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @allinwithchris: .@SenMarkey responds to Trump's "fire & fury" remarks on North Korea: "The president needs to tone it down" #inners [video]

Facts, figures, experts on North Korea - “There are no realistic military solutions to the crisis in North Korea. Right now there are two inexperienced and bombastic leaders threatening each other with nuclear weapons, and the risk of stumbling into a catastrophic war is very real. We must deescalate tensions and begin to talk with the North Koreans and the Chinese to resolve this problem diplomatically. The United States, and the world, cannot afford a military misadventure on the Korean Peninsula,” writes Geoff Wilson in a factsheet for HuffPost. Full piece here.

See also - “Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ threat to North Korea sparks new fears of war” by Bryan Bender and Jacqueline Klimas for POLITICO here.

Tweet - @SecDef19: In this time of heightened tension between nuclear states, we must measure our language carefully. https://t.co/iqHJurHEzu

Accept bad news and move forward - Considering U.S. options for North Korea for Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis writes that “the big question is where to go from here. Some of my colleagues still think the United States might persuade North Korea to abandon, or at least freeze, its nuclear and missile programs. I am not so sure. I suspect we might have to settle for trying to reduce tensions so that we live long enough to figure this problem out. But there is only one way to figure out who is right: Talk to the North Koreans.” For the full article, click here.

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Diplomacy needed, badly - “Sowing uncertainty on the potential employment of nuclear weapons is extremely dangerous. In the worst case it could spark a nuclear conflict, a disastrous outcome that serves no one’s interest,” writes William Hartung for The Hill. “Diplomacy is the only approach that has a chance of making a difference. As U.S. military leaders have long known, even a conventional military attack on North Korea could prompt Pyongyang to launch a massive artillery attack on the South Korean capital, Seoul, potentially causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. And even at that great cost, there’s no guarantee that a U.S. strike on North Korea could successfully eliminate its nuclear capabilities.”

--“A two step approach — freeze then roll back — makes sense given North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s main rationale for developing nuclear weapons, which is to fend off the prospect of regime change, as happened to Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein when they either abandoned their nuclear development programs or dismantled their nuclear arsenals… It’s time to tone down the rhetoric and get on with the urgent business of diplomacy.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “How Trump Can Contain North Korea Without ‘Fire and Fury’” by Evelyn Farkas for The New York Times here.

Going beyond deterrence - In an interview with Bustle’s Nicole Erdinger, Ploughshares Policy Associate Geoff Wilson emphasized the gravity of nuclear threats: “‘A nuclear weapon being launched from anywhere by anyone would drastically change the world… As soon as one is let off the chain, then nobody knows where it stops,’ he says. ‘The fear of these weapons has kept them from being used against each other, so once you've gone beyond deterrents, once the bottom's fallen out from under you, it's impossible to say what happens next.’” Full article here.

Tweet - @nktpnd: .@NarangVipin and I make the controversial argument that it matters if/when/how POTUS threatens nuclear first-use https://t.co/Iky1W7L1vD

Trump takes credit for modernization - “President Trump took credit Wednesday for single-handedly renovating and modernizing America's nuclear arsenal in just six months. There's only one problem with the claim: it's not entirely true,” writes Jamie McIntyre for The Washington Examiner. “While modernization programs started under the Obama administration continue apace, no new initiatives have begun, nor has a single additional dollar been spent on upgrading America's nuclear weapons beyond what was previously budgeted since Trump took office in January.”

--“But Tom Collina, of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms control advocacy group, called Trump's tweet ‘false on many levels.’ ‘These were not his plans, but a carryover from Obama,’ Collina said, ‘And none of it has taken effect yet so it has not changed our status, which was the biggest honcho to begin with.’ Collina notes that the U.S. has about 7,000 nuclear weapons, both deployed and in reserve.” For the full article, click here.

Quick Hits

--“North Korea-US tensions: How worried should you be?” by the BBC here.

--“How would US stop North Korean missile headed at Chicago” by Chuck Goudie and Ross Weidner for ABC7 Eyewitness News here.

--“Hayden: Trump bluster puts us in ‘tight box’ on North Korea” by Gen. Michael Hayden for The Hill here.

--“Trump’s Threat to North Korea Was Improvised” by Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker for The New York Times here.

--“N. Korea warns it could ‘turn the U.S. mainland into the theatre of a nuclear war’” by Rebecca Savransky for The Hill here.

--“Trump’s Threat of War With North Korea May Sound Scarier Than It Is” by Max Fisher for The New York Times here.

--“Editorial - Stop escalating tension” by The Korea Herald’s Editorial Board here.

--“Trump’s threat to North Korea contrasts with calm reassurances of other administration officials” by Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung for The Washington Post here.

--“America Is Not Ready for a War in North Korea” by Eliot Cohen for The Atlantic here.

--“Trump’s dire rhetoric echoes language of North Korean propaganda” by Julian Borger for The Guardian here.

--“US can’t ignore North Korea between missile launches” by Sam Yoon for The Hill here.

--“N. Korea threatens Guam after Trump warns North of ‘fire and fury’” by Kim Gamel for Stars and Stripes here.

--“U.S. envoy to U.N. will go to Vienna to review Iran nuclear activities - U.S. official” by Michelle Nichols for Reuters here.

--“Another country with nuclear aspirations is watching the North Korean stand-off very closely” by Jason Gewirtz for CNBC here.

--”Five Facts About a Controversial Nuclear Weapon” by Will Saetren for War on the Rocks here.

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