Trump's bellicose remarks on Tehran, Pyongyang prompt unusual backfire

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/10/11 11:19:43

Over the past few days, the US capital has been gripped by fear and concern.

A growing sense of urgency, more bipartisanly felt than ever, has been prompted by the incessant, bellicose rhetoric of President Donald Trump against Pyongyang and Tehran, with many asking what's next.

What was unusual this time, however, was that several bigwigs across the aisle on Capitol Hill moved to break the sense of stasis in Washington, even if that would put their political careers at risk.


Among the congressmen was Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker, who tweeted on Sunday that Trump had turned the White House into "an adult day care center."

Corker is not a passive spectator; he is the incumbent chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Later after the feud he explained that Trump was treating the presidency like "a reality show" and could be setting the country "on the path to World War III."

The president threatened last month in the United Nations to "totally destroy" Pyongyang. He also claimed recently via Twitter that "policy didn't work!" where the Korean Peninsula was concerned.

"Only one thing will work," he said.

To echo him, the Secretaries of State and Defense, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis, respectively, hinted this week there was a military option to curb the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The administration's dissent with Corker raised more eyebrows than ever as Trump would reportedly later this week "decertify" the historic deal on the Iran nuclear issue, which he said was "horrendous" and Corker should be responsible for.

But the anxiety was not confined to the GOP establishment. On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy warned Monday that Trump's hostile statements directed at the DPRK and Iran must be taken "seriously."

Murphy, also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on lawmakers of the two parties to take swift action and put safeguards in place to prevent Trump from embarking on a "preemptive strike" without congressional approval.

"A lot of people think that there is some kind of 'good cop, bad cop' act underway, but that's just not true," said Corker.

Trump's reckless confrontation with Pyongyang and Tehran on the nuclear issue has been more than alarming to Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have felt increasingly obliged to curb the president's foreign policy impulses, which, if left unchecked, would result in nuclear-related human calamity of inconceivable scale.

"Political interests may matter for most of the time, but when it comes to national security issues like launching war against other countries, the US lawmakers are liable for standing up and restoring their final decision-making power," said Teng Jianqun, director of the Department for American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

But plucking up courage may cost potential critics their careers. Former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon lashed out at Corker late Monday, calling on him to "resign immediately" and threatening to take out incumbent GOP senators in primaries.

"We are declaring war on the Republican establishment," Bannon said on Fox News.


Responding to Trump's hawkish threats, Tehran vowed on Monday to give a "firm and crushing" response if the Trump administration decertify the landmark nuclear deal and designate its Islamic Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

"I hope that the US ruling body would not make the strategic mistake, but if it does so, then Iran's response will be firm, decisive and crushing and the US should accept its consequences," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi.

Pyongyang, another major foe on Trump's diplomatic agenda, also showed itself to be unyielding.

Top leader Kim Jong Un earlier this week asked his nation to continue with its nuclear and missile development plans against the United Nations' sanctions.

"The nuclear weapons of the DPRK are ... a powerful deterrent to safeguard the peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia," Kim said.

In an unprecedented direct statement by Kim last month, Trump was called a "mentally deranged US dotard." Kim also vowed to return the US threat with fire.


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