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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

 
Fire and fury

by digby



He didn't come up with those words himself. I'd guess it came from the Bannon-Miller corner.

It's ... not good:
President Trump’s warning on Tuesday that North Korea would experience “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued threatening the United States was a remarkable escalation of military rhetoric with little precedent in the modern era, historians and analysts said.

Mr. Trump’s menacing remarks echoed the tone and cadence of President Harry S. Truman, who, in a 1945 address announcing that the United States had dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, urged the Japanese to surrender, warning that if they did not, “they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

It is not clear whether Mr. Trump intended the historical parallel — White House officials did not respond to questions about how much planning went into his brief statement, or what was intended by the alliterative language — but it was a stark break with decades of more measured presidential responses to brewing foreign conflicts.

“It’s hard to think of a president using more extreme language during crisis like this before,” said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian. “Presidents usually try to use language that is even more moderate than what they may be feeling in private, because they’ve always been worried that their language might escalate a crisis.”

Mr. Truman delivered his muscular message at a time when the United States had an overwhelming military advantage over Japan, which did not have a nuclear weapon; Mr. Trump’s threat was aimed instead at a government that has developed nuclear weapons and has been testing intercontinental ballistic missiles.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower used to say that the more shrill the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was in the language he used against the United States — promising “we will bury you” and “we’re turning out missiles like sausages” — the more tempered he would be, Mr. Beschloss said.

President John F. Kennedy was similarly restrained in his rhetoric in the run-up to the Cuban missile crisis, which was prompted by the discovery that nuclear missile sites were being constructed by the Soviet Union in Cuba, Mr. Beschloss said. In an address on Oct. 22, 1962, he called upon Khrushchev “to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations” and “move the world back from the abyss of destruction.” As for the United States, Kennedy said, “the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.”

Mr. Trump’s statement, delivered from his Bedminster, N.J., golf resort, went far beyond the usual tough-but-vague language that past presidents have used to confront North Korea’s frequent provocations.

Their responses — full of strong condemnations and recognition of grave threats — have mostly left out the fiery, nationalistic language favored by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and his father, Kim Jong-il, before him. Mr. Trump’s, by contrast, seemed to have adopted it.

Well, the US seems to have elected our own Kim Jong-un, so it figures ...

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