Trump made a very serious threat earlier today:

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the U.S.,” the president said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state,” he continued, referring apparently to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Incendiary rhetoric is the last thing that the U.S. needs in its dealings with North Korea. Making a threat like this is irresponsible in several ways. It is intentionally provocative, and that will make it more difficult to reduce tensions. It is needlessly alarming to allies and gives them reason to fear that the U.S. might act recklessly at their expense. It seems to commit the U.S. to taking drastic actions in response to North Korean rhetoric, which puts the U.S. in the absurd position of either backing up the president’s mindless bluster or climbing down publicly. Despite repeatedly criticizing Obama’s “red line” in Syria, Trump has drawn a much bigger, more consequential line and dared North Korea to cross it. Knowing the North Korean leadership’s track record, it is almost certain that they will call what we have to hope is nothing more than Trump’s bluff.