WASHINGTON – Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s recent response to North Korean provocations was irresponsible.
“The president needs to check his lip before he mouths off about these things,” he told TMN.
“I get it. You want to show that you’re big-bad and you want to push back on the little man in North Korea. But the reality of it is that’s not what presidents do,” Steele explained.
Trump at a news conference on Tuesday said North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” if Pyongyang continues to make provocative threats against the U.S.
The president spoke following The Washington Post reporting that North Korea manufactured a nuclear warhead specifically tailored for delivery on a long-range missile. The Post was read portions of a confidential assessment conducted by U.S. intelligence officials.
North Korea on Wednesday said that if attacked it would consider a nuclear strike against the U.S. territory of Guam.
Many Democrats blasted Trump, calling his remarks overly aggressive. Several Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, urged him to choose his words more carefully.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in an interview Wednesday suggested he agreed with the premise of the president’s remarks.
“President Trump has basically drawn a red line saying he’ll never allow North Korea to have an ICBM missile that can hit America with a nuclear weapon on top, he’s not going to let that happen, he’s not going to contain the threat, he’s going to stop the threat,” Graham told CBS This Morning.
Both the U.S. and the United Nations recently imposed a new round of economic sanctions against Pyongyang in response to repeated long-range missile tests.
Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University in Maryland, said Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea contradicts his administration’s policy of using diplomacy to try and halt the regime’s nuclear program.
“When President Trump states clearly and irrefutably that ‘If they make threats to the United States’ that ‘They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before,’ it is inconsistent with his administration’s policy to let North Korea retreat without losing face,” he explained.
Vatz said Trump’s rhetoric may inhibit the administration’s ability to effectively respond to Pyongyang in future provocations.
“It is better to make red lines clear through back channels, not through public tantrums. The president may have to take action, but it is better to do so on his own time and terms,” he said.
Ken Adelman is a former ambassador to the UN who also served as arms control director under President Ronald Reagan. Adelman is the author of “Reagan at Reykjavik.”
Adelman said he is “no fan of Trump” but is nevertheless fascinated by the president’s rhetoric.