President Donald Trump warned Friday that U.S. military resources were in place, “locked and loaded”, should North Korea “act unwisely”, as foreign leaders called on Washington and Pyongyang to end a cycle of rhetorical threats raising the specter of nuclear war, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Trump made the comments in a tweet early Friday from a working vacation at his golf course in New Jersey. He later told reporters the U.S. is looking carefully at military options and said North Korea would face “big, big trouble” if it attacked the U.S. territory of Guam, which Kim Jong-uns regime has threatened.
“I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said. And what I said is what I mean.” he added.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later spoke by phone, whereas Xi urged restraint in dealing with North Korea. The president hasn’t specified which precise actions by North Korea would trigger a U.S. response, heightening the unpredictability in the standoff with Pyongyang.
The result is a sense of uncertainty that has drawn comparisons to what Richard Nixon called “the madman theory”, the tactic of coercing an adversary into negotiations by signaling the U.S. president is sufficiently unhinged to carry out a catastrophic attack.
Historians say Trump’s behavior differs from Nixon’s attempts to execute the madman theory, in part because the late president tended to send his signals through military movements and undisclosed messages. They also said Nixon’s messages and actions were carefully calibrated, in contrast to the sometimes dissonantstatementscoming from the Trump administration about North Korea.
The president’s rhetoric has lacked precision about what North Korean actions would prompt a U.S. attack. His “fire and fury” warning last Tuesday suggested that repeated threats from North Koreaalone could prompt a U.S. military response. He and his advisers have also raised the possibility ofpreventive military action to stop North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons that can strike the U.S.