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Trump’s Dangerous ‘Fire and Fury’ Rhetoric

Trump made [1] 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.

27 Comments (Open | Close)

27 Comments To "Trump’s Dangerous ‘Fire and Fury’ Rhetoric"

#1 Comment By DP On August 8, 2017 @ 5:13 pm

How foolish can he be?

If we’re not going to attack North Korea (still the odds on bet for obvious reasons), we just look silly and weak. It also makes the talks we will inevitably have to broach with North Korea more difficult.

If we do decide to attack North Korea, this kind of language just puts them on paranoid alert. It makes them more likely to act out destructively if they see something they don’t like.

#2 Comment By Jon S On August 8, 2017 @ 5:19 pm

The US slaughtered between 1/6th and 1/3rd of North Korea’s population in the Korean War. We dropped more tonnage of bombs on tiny North Korea than we did on Germany in WWII.

And we still lost. And hovering over NK is 2 billion Chinese. We cannot defeat NK. We’re not that good.

Trump should be humbly apologizing for the atrocities we committed against them. Give the South Koreans a firm handshake, and get the heck out of there.

This guy is going to get a whole bunch of good people killed, for absolutely no good reason.

#3 Comment By victory over eurasia On August 8, 2017 @ 5:32 pm

Good thing Gen. Kelly’s got this well in hand……

#4 Comment By Kevin On August 8, 2017 @ 5:41 pm

When John frigging McCain tells you to shut up with the mindless belligerence , things are dire indeed.

#5 Comment By Sheldon On August 8, 2017 @ 6:08 pm

Jon, what’s the source for your figures? You can see Korean War deaths here,


and North Korea’s population at the time was over 10 million. The death percentage isn’t anything close to what you’re describing. Just curious about where you got your numbers.

#6 Comment By CharleyCarp On August 8, 2017 @ 6:11 pm

It’s really a great opportunity for NK to humiliate the US. The live question is whether they’re skillful enough to play the cards.

#7 Comment By EngineerScotty On August 8, 2017 @ 6:32 pm

Maybe Trump watched Game of Thrones Sunday night, and thinks the US Air Force simply can fly over Pyongyang with a giant dragon….

#8 Comment By Jack On August 8, 2017 @ 8:00 pm

We lost the Korean War? Jon S, you better let the South Koreans know asap.

#9 Comment By Judy On August 8, 2017 @ 8:07 pm

can we impeach him now?

#10 Comment By Adriana I Pena On August 8, 2017 @ 8:14 pm

Great. Two lunatics facing each other with nuclear arsenals. This will not end well.

All of you who voted for Trump because of the Supreme Court have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

#11 Comment By Clifford Story On August 8, 2017 @ 8:20 pm

It sounds like Donnie took a break from watching Faux and played some old Saddam Hussein tapes.

#12 Comment By Fayez Abedaziz On August 8, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

Like the world has never seen?
Somebody tell me that a leader of a nation with a lot of mass killing capabilities is not threatening a part of the earth with more destruction of human beings and land than mass bombings, chemical killing, atomic bombs and so on.
Exactly what is the point of diplomacy and all f that?
Talk to the Koreans for crying out loud.
Funny, the politicians in the U.S. continue to threaten other nations every day.
I don’t see any nation deploying armies and so on a few miles from the American border as America’s war loving supporters have been doing for a hundred years.
It’s not enough for some people that the U.S. killed millions of people in Vietnam, Korea and numerous other nations.
Immoral and…well…do politicians and generals think that they’re exempt from ethics and, if you are religious, from killing being a sin, and hey,
that there may be, for all people, judgement day…
I’m saying, you know, I can’t be the only ‘peasant’ out here that have such thoughts once in a while.
That’s okay…?
Thanks and have a good day.

#13 Comment By Crprod On August 8, 2017 @ 9:13 pm

Does this kind of stuff even work in running a casino?

#14 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 8, 2017 @ 10:05 pm

“It’s not enough for some people that the U.S. killed millions of people in Vietnam, Korea and numerous other nations.
Immoral and…well…do politicians and generals think that they’re exempt from ethics and, if you are religious, from killing being a sin, and hey . . .”

I am unclear what provoked this comment. But clearly gamesmanship is about.


I see no reason to get overly nonplussed by either comment. Pres Trump said threats against the US, so the North Koreans talked about a strategic policy near Guam, not at Guam.

Gamesmanship. The comment most salient here is the encouragement to engage in conversation and perhaps all this chatter is just a precursor.

And it is not as there have not been chilly banter before.


Ever since the election of Pres trump, I have been relieved to hear the hypelectic rhetoric of those that opposed him on nearly every issue. As someone who operates with a high level of suspicion, it’s nice to know, I don’t even come close to the level of paranoia displayed over the last eight months, longer if one includes the campaign.

While a bit concerned over grand juries, given their use in US politics, the last year and a half have been most reaffirming. I have my disagreements with the current executive, but good grief.

#15 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On August 8, 2017 @ 10:23 pm

the good news is, when we’re all dead (and those left are dealing with the fallout), climate change will be off the how do we survive ‘bucket list’.

#16 Comment By Esmehan On August 9, 2017 @ 7:18 am

Of course Trump’s rhetoric is foolish. But the DIA and the Washington Post bear responsibility as well. They leaked/published an incendiary – and highly classified – report highlighting the rapidly growing threat from North Korea.

Of course Trump was asked about it. It would have statesmanlike to point to the new sanctions,importance of international unity, etc., and I wish he had. But in that case I bet the Post and others were ready with their attacks on him ad weak, inadequate, etc.

#17 Comment By Charlieford On August 9, 2017 @ 1:28 pm

Estimates vary, but an average of those estimates would be about 1.3 million North Korean deaths (military and civilian) due to the 1950-53 war.

Estimates of the population of North Korea also vary, from 8 to 10 million.

Curtis Lemay once said “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”

Part of the problem is inherent in counting war dead. There’s a lot of indirect death as a result of war (starvation, illness, etc.) and some people include those estimates, and some don’t.

But even if we take 20% or less as the best estimate, compare with World War II figures:
The United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89%, and the US lost 0.32%.

#18 Comment By Stephen J. On August 9, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

April 10, 2017
Oh Donny Boy: An Ode to The Donald

Oh, Donny Boy, the missiles, the missiles are landing
On Syria, Yemen and other countries too
Nations are being destroyed and people are slaughtered
Is this what you and other “leaders” want to do?

Your credibility is gone, and many people are dying
But you are praised and lauded by those who hated you
Oh Donny Boy, Oh, Donny Boy the planet is in deep doo, doo
Should we give “thanks” for your missile maniacs’ crew?

Still, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and England
The NATO countries and the corporate media too
Are all in “Seventh Heaven” and now ecstatic over you
Oh, Donny Boy, Oh, Donny Boy these are your “war friends”?
Isn’t that so very true!

The generals are all so happy for more “work” for them to do
And you and other “leaders” in their bunkers can watch it all “play out” too
Meanwhile the ordinary people everywhere will pay and pay and pay
Millions of dollars for missiles: and you had a “wonderful day”

And when you send more and more hellish missiles
Exploding into cities and countries as well
And when the nuclear bombs start falling
You will have opened the gates of hell

There will be nobody left after it’s all over
In a world we once, all knew
Oh Donny Boy, Oh Donny Boy, Did you make “America great again”?
And incinerate the world too. RIP….

#19 Comment By c matt On August 9, 2017 @ 2:34 pm

How foolish can he be?

Apparently, as foolish as a Congress that voted 98% to sanction NK and Russia, and wrt Russia, on absolutely no legitimate evidence. Trump is just trying to catch up to Congress: “I’ll see your sanctions, and raise you heated rhetoric.”

#20 Comment By rayray On August 9, 2017 @ 3:06 pm

The idea that Trump, given his twitter record and track record so far, and that includes his track record as a businessman and a television performer, is now exhibiting “gamesmanship” by this announcement is…uh…


#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 9, 2017 @ 6:08 pm


Perhaps so, but I have been listening to doomsday and apocalypse since the primaries — and to date nothing even close has occurred.

I am unmoved by the hyperbole. There are a lot of communication techniques I would be less utilized, but thus far, while the rhetoric may be high, our behavior does seem aggressive on the ground.

I remain most concerned with the Pres ability to stand his ground and stay his course. Again, he really under estimated the forces allied against him. But i have little doubt that had the election gone the other way —-

We’d be in full on swing in Syria, Libya, Yemen and perhaps Iran.

I think its a good idea to take a step back when the executive makes comment, not only because of who he is, but because of the environment. We respond to so much of what is superficial – whether what Mr Trump is doing will play out in the long run, we’ll see.

But I have no doubt he ruffling the feathers of the entrenched, who don’t appreciate their system being sidestepped.

#22 Comment By SF Bay On August 9, 2017 @ 11:51 pm

“I think its a good idea to take a step back when the executive makes comment, not only because of who he is, but because of the environment.”

Why? The executive, President Trump, is the elected leader of our country. Why would I not listen? Do I have some reason to believe he’s not telling the truth? Am I supposed to think he’s just kidding?

What environment? Is Trump unable to discharge the duties of his office? President Trump was quite clear in his comments regarding North Korea. I believe him and it scares me. Why would anyone not believe him?

#23 Comment By rayray On August 10, 2017 @ 11:40 pm

You seem to be saying that Trump is simply not to be taken seriously. Not to point out the obvious…but if that is the case, then you should not be supporting him. Full stop.

#24 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 11, 2017 @ 3:21 am


1. Because of the rhetorical environment that has been created over the last two years, responding to immediately, tend to reflect extreme over reactions.

“Why would I not listen?”

2. The toughest part of any conversation is listening. Noting in my comments suggests that one should not listen. As noted in my comments, I am not sure our responses reflect that we are in fact listening.

“Do I have some reason to believe he’s not telling the truth?”

3. No. But there’s plenty of reason to wait and consider context and in this environment consider whether what he said is what said and the context in which what is said exists. Also testing the immediacy of intent.

“Am I supposed to think he’s just kidding?”

4. A lot of times he is kidding. I don’t think that is the case, But he repeatedly makes comments in exaggeration to make a point via sarcasm, irony or blowing a response up.

“What environment?”

5. Hostile to the point mass hysteria among his critics and those critics have powerful tools. I take their desire and intent to remove him from office “by any means necessary” seriously.

“Is Trump unable to discharge the duties of his office?”

6. Despite some issues, I think he has demonstrated that he can.

“President Trump was quite clear in his comments regarding North Korea.”

7. I don’t think this means merely verbal horn blowing. I think this refers to actionable threat. There are some reasons to be frightened in the current world we live in. But that world was not created by Pres. Trump. If he frightens you then sec Clinton and company should send you to the nearest bomb shelter. Because there regime change intentions are proofed by their pudding and just as messy.

“Why would anyone not believe him?”

And this is a funny, as in curious turn of perspective from his opposition, because since the campaign season to this day, a common refrain is that,

“That no should take Mr Trump seriously.”

And yet his every comment is taken as of it were gospel. Go figure.

The circular retort no doubt is, “That’s why one is scared.”

It’s the type of rhetoric from which there is no out.

#25 Comment By rayray On August 11, 2017 @ 11:52 am

I think we agree. I agree the only way to deal with Trump is not listen to him or take him seriously or assume he’s joking. This strategy falls very much in line with those who have had to deal with him professionally over the years. Much of the time he is simply ignored in negotiations while the grown ups get the work done.

An attorney involved in a deal with him over in my world said that Trump was great to negotiate against because while he would yell and posture and etc…he simply did not understand what was really happening. Sound familiar?

What this all means is simply that he’s a terrible president. We can all agree that it would be better to have a president who acts with clarity, circumspection, intelligence and experience. It’s too late for that now. I found it intriguing to hear Angela’s comments on the NK situation which were a lesson in how this is done.

I think there was some space to be critical of past presidential policy on NK from both Bush II and possibly Clinton. But the thing is – now Trump owns the NK situation (and clearly wants to own it), so whining about the other kids on the historical playground seems foolish. And, like the lawyer said about him, Trump manages to juggle being confident, being loud, and being clearly not up to speed on what’s going on.

#26 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 13, 2017 @ 5:24 pm

“I think we agree. I agree the only way to deal with Trump is not listen to him or take him seriously or assume he’s joking.”

Uhhh, excuse me.

My comments were not a reflection of what I think is the correct response to Pres. Trump. They were a critique of the total contradictions in which his opponents respond to him.

One minute they are clamoring he should be utterly dismissed and the next minute they are claiming the world is coming to an end because of something he said.

I would also take exception to how you have characterized my comments, I indicated, that it is important to listen. And by listening I mean man listening to the context and intent in which his comments are made.

And that is what I mean by waiting as opposed to responding immediately at every turn of phrase.

For example, it is easy to respond to his comments concerning what is happening with regard to violence in the South. The magnitude of hatred and violence of whites is just impossible to lay at the feet of black Americans.

Where as what is meant by a North Korean threat requires some dissection.

I would need more on display that what is on the table to turn my back on the executive, even though we have points of disagreement.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 13, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

“I think there was some space to be critical of past presidential policy on NK from both Bush II and possibly Clinton. But the thing is – now Trump owns the NK situation (and clearly wants to own it), so whining about the other kids on the historical playground seems foolish.”

Referencing relevant history is never foolish. I will hold this Pres. for what he does during his tenure, along with the consequences. Thus far the situation is now what it has been, and nothing he has done has matters worse, despite the hand ringing.

This Pres has great opportunities to make positive changes in US and her policies — I remain hopeful that he will and adamant that he do so.

Including building a wall.

Laughing. Maybe if I discovered he ordered that I be rear ended, I might consider changing my position of support.