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Anne Applebaum: Trump's toothless threats endanger us all

12 August 2017

"President Trump's threat to rain down "fire and fury" on North Korea is like pouring gasoline on a fire".

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on all sides in the North Korean nuclear crisis to act responsibly "to prevent any escalation of tensions" after a days-long war of words between Washington and Pyongyang.

Obviously they can, and would, try to do so.

People familiar with the contacts say the interactions have done nothing thus far to quell tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile advances, which are now fuelling fears of military confrontation.

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It would be a case of dramatic revisionism for the Trump Administration to even claim otherwise. Yun and North Korean diplomat Pak Song II negotiated the release of imprisoned American college student Otto Warmbier in June. Even if there were, the experts note it would need to be proportional, which doesn't exactly fit with U.S. officials threatening the "destruction" of not only North Korea, but its population. Yet putting that theory into practice with a military attack nearly certainly positions the USA as aggressor, and risks major diplomatic fallout, on top of the calamitous death toll of the conflict itself. "They didn't want to take on the issue and I have no choice but to take it on". These types of talks are often used to manage hard diplomatic situations and while they don't involve current representatives of the United States government or the ruling administration, they establish lines of communication through think tank experts and former officials.

Colbert had a pitch-perfect response to Trump's suggestion that North Korea will be "in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble" if it doesn't act responsibly: "Oh, my god".

"I think China can do a lot more", Trump told reporters on Thursday. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!

"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it", Trump said at the time.

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The State Department did not immediately comment on Mr Yun's diplomacy.

"Contrary to the public vitriol of the moment, the North Koreans were willing to reopen the NY channel following the election of President Trump and his administration signalled an openness to engage and 'talk about talks, '" said Keith Luse, executive director of the National Committee on North Korea, a US-based group that promotes US-North Korean engagement.

They included Mr Warmbier, who was imprisoned for stealing a propaganda poster and only allowed to return to the USA in June - in an unconscious state.

If N Korea provokes U.S. retaliation, will China remain neutral?
Army Corps of Engineers could EMP harden numerous most important nodes in the electric grid and other critical infrastructures. The other 40% is simply that the United States will have to tolerate and live with North Korea's nuclear threat forever.

Anne Applebaum: Trump's toothless threats endanger us all