How close is Donald Trump to waging war on North Korea?

Trump continues to tweet about North Korea in a way that is making many observers uncomfortable

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 9, 2017 8:48AM (EDT)

 (AP/Wong Maye)
(AP/Wong Maye)

One could fairly say President Donald Trump is someone tempting war based on his recent rhetoric toward North Korea.

The president's most recent verbal broadside against the Asian dictatorship occurred on Monday morning.

Before that, Trump had alarmed foreign policy observers over the weekend with a series of tweets that, by denouncing a quarter-century worth of negotiations with the claim that "only one thing will work," seemed to imply the prospect of war.

When asked about those tweets on Saturday, Trump cryptically replied, "You'll figure that out pretty soon." He may have hinted at his deeper meaning when he complained to Mike Huckabee that same day, "This should have been handled 25 years ago. This should have been handled 10 years ago. It should have been handled during the Obama administration. The truth is, Mike, I was handed a mess. Not only there, I was handed a mess in the Middle East. Just a total mess."

Nor were these the first October tweets that seemed to edge America closer to war with North Korea. On Thursday, Trump told reporters that they might be witnessing "the calm before the storm" and, when asked to elaborate on that, simply stated, "You'll find out."

Last week Trump took a swipe at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for his willingness to engage in diplomatic talks with the individual Trump has labeled "Little Rocket Man," North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

"President Donald Trump’s tweets are sometimes emotionally incendiary but typically not overtly dangerous," wrote Michael Tkacik of the Shreveport Times. "On the Korean peninsula, however, Trump’s remarks noticeably increase the likelihood of nuclear escalation."

Meanwhile Ankit Panda of the South China Morning Post wrote on Monday morning, "North Korea will not have missed the message – indeed, messages – over these past few weeks. The world is now anticipating a long-range launch of its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan, to demonstrate to its remaining doubters that it possesses the capability to strike the U.S. homeland."

Panda added, "It is long past time for the United States to get its act together on North Korea policy."

Twitter users have also expressed concern about Trump's North Korea policies.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Kim Jong Un North Korea