‘Fire, fury and power’
After telling North Korea that it will be met with “fire, fury and power” the likes of which the world has never seen, US president Donald Trump issued an even stronger warning that the US military is “locked and loaded” should the Asian nation choose to “act unwisely.”
Trump’s tough rhetoric against North Korea – which received new sanctions from the UN Security Council for continuing its intercontinental ballistic missile tests – has generated varied reactions in the US and many parts of the world. “Pacifists” have expressed alarm, saying the “apocalyptic outbursts” and “bombastic” attitude of the US president could only exacerbate tensions and make things worse.
Undoubtedly, there are also many Americans who are convinced that adopting a tougher stance is the only way to deal with North Korea whose belligerent leader Kim Jong Un has been continuously issuing threats and insults against the United States. Prior to Trump’s “fire and fury” warning, a North Korean mouthpiece had written, “…the day the US dares tease our nation with a nuclear rod and sanctions, the mainland US will be catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire.”
A lot of Americans including right-wing liberals and even “white supremacists” agree that playing nice is not going to make the situation any better either, echoing Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s tweet that attacks against Trump are “ridiculous” because North Korea would not act any differently even if the US president used “nicer words.”
Sebastian Gorka, one of Trump’s national security advisers, was even more blunt, saying that the US is “not giving in to nuclear blackmail any longer.” As US State Secretary Rex Tillerson also put it, Trump is “sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”
Despite the verbal warfare, back channel diplomacy is being quietly pursued via the “New York Channel” – the same diplomatic track that was used to secure the release of US college student Otto Warmbier who had been detained for 18 months in North Korea before he was released (but already comatose) in June this year.
The situation reminds us of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, the biggest test for the leadership of President John F. Kennedy, when the US and the Soviet Union came so close to a nuclear war because of the installation of Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba – located just 90 miles from Florida. It came about after an American U-2 surveillance aircraft passing over Cuba took photos of a Soviet SS-4 medium range ballistic missile already being assembled.
What followed was a tense two weeks of military standoff, with JFK going live on TV to tell Americans that the US is prepared to use military force if necessary to protect the American people from the danger posed by the Soviet Union.
Millions of Americans especially those from the mid-west are ecstatic that they now have a president who is sticking up for their nation and its friends and allies. President Trump made it clear in no uncertain terms that Kim Jong Un will “truly regret it fast” if he utters an overt threat – which Kim and his family have been doing for years – directed against Guam, or any American territory or ally for that matter.
One of Trump’s avid supporters was even quoted as saying that “it’s about time somebody stood up to those who have been pushing us around especially with the kind of firepower we have,” even re-tweeting the US Pacific Command Twitter post that declared, “#USAF B-1B Lancer #bombers on Guam stand ready to fulfill USFK’s #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so.”
The world was given a peek of the kind of military arsenal the US has at its disposal when two B-1B bombers conducted aerial maneuvers with South Korean fighter jets over the Korean Peninsula, displaying their attack capabilities following North Korea’s firing of an ICBM early in July. The US also tested its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Alaska – successfully detecting, tracking and intercepting a mid-range ballistic missile that was launch-tested over the Pacific Ocean.
In terms of military firepower, there is no doubt the United States has formidable fighting strength – 2,300 fighter aircraft, 2,800 attack planes, over 6,000 choppers (about 1,000 of them attack helicopters), more than 41,000 armored fighting vehicles, 19 aircraft carriers, 70 submarines and over 60 destroyers. Three weeks ago, the US commissioned the USS Gerald Ford – the $13 billion, state-of-the-art warship that Donald Trump said was America’s 100,000-ton strong message to the world that will make enemies shake in fear.
The US military believes that being ahead is the only way for it to maintain the balance of power in the world – thus, it has continued over the years to develop highly sophisticated and technologically advanced military hardware like the F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightning II, B-2 Spirit bombers, Virginia-class submarines, micro-and stealth drones and hypersonic missiles, to name a few.
A source in the Pentagon told us that US technology is “light years ahead of everyone,” adding that there are other “secret weapons” which will be revealed when “absolutely necessary.” Clearly, President Trump’s warnings are “neither nonsense nor shallow,” our source said.
Undoubtedly, we are facing one of the most volatile times in history – and all nations should stand together against any threat to global stability and security. President Duterte’s meeting with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson was perfect timing when the president assured our American friends by saying, “I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia.”
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