President Donald Trump doesn’t do diplomacy. He hurls broadsides.
Calling out unstable North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a recipe for disaster. That’s how you tumble into a war. Nothing good can come from Trump lashing out at Kim on a whim, three times in the last week alone.
But our question is this: Where are voices of prudence within the president’s own party? Where are the Republicans, especially in Congress, who are prepared to call out Trump for his irresponsibility, putting our country first?
On Friday morning, Trump put Kim on notice via Twitter. “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely,” he tweeted. “Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
Earlier in the week, with the same schoolyard bluster, Trump told reporters, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
And a few days later, Trump doubled down rather than calmed down. “If anything,” he said, “maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough.”
And what did the United States get for all that? Kim, another man-child, promised to launch test missiles near the American island of Guam.
Any hope that Trump’s new chief of staff, the respected Marine Gen. John Kelly, could restrain the president evaporated quickly. And Secretary of State Rex Tillerson doesn’t have the president’s ear.
The job falls to the Republicans in Congress, who have the power of the bully pulpit, to put at least a rhetorical check on Trump.
Sen. John McCain came closest, warning Trump on Tuesday of the dangers of his “fire and fury” tweet. “I take exception to the president’s words because you got to be sure you can do what you say you’re going to do,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told a Phoenix radio station.
Congress should dust off legislation proposed in January by Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Ted Lieu of California, both Democrats, to prevent Trump from preemptively launching a nuclear strike. The president would not be limited, however, in using nuclear weapons to respond to a strike against the United States.
The United Nations Security Council voted this month to hit Pyongyang with new sanctions, yet Trump still has wasted no time launching his own verbal assault. This is a time for restraint, and for standing up to the president.
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