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What the papers say: The danger of Trump’s war of words

Donald Trump’s fighting talk has the world worried. But his promise to bring ‘fire and fury’ to North Korea will only make things harder, says the Guardian. This type of brinkmanship is nothing new – and the paper points out the ‘dire’ warnings that greeted China and others joining the ‘nuclear club’. Trump, however, is ‘not most people’, the Guardian argues – saying that the president’s words were ‘strikingly reminiscent of the bluster of North Korea itself’. Even this comparison, suggests the paper, isn’t quite fair on Pyongyang: the country’s statements ‘are calculated, not cavalier’. Not so with Trump, says the paper, which suggests the President ‘offers ad-libbed soundbites from the clubhouse of his resort and on Twitter’. These words ‘weaken US credibility and undermine its ability to deal with the threat from North Korea’, the paper concludes.

Donald Trump is clearly frustrated by North Korea, points out the Times – which perhaps explains his decision to echo the words Harry Truman in his threat ‘to Japan of “a rain of ruin from the air”’. That was at the end of a ‘long war’ points out the paper. Trump’s comments, however, are aimed at trying to ‘frighten an enemy away from starting a war.’ Yet this ‘bombast’ could be misjudged, argues the Times, which says his statement ‘may have undone’ the diplomatic consensus aimed at making North Korea toe the line. There is another possibility behind Trump’s decision to step up the war of words: that his ‘sabre rattling may be directed more at China than at Kim’. Perhaps now, China might be ‘more ready to press Kim’ – after all, ‘North Korea in flames is the stuff of nightmares for the Chinese leadership.’

The Sun says simply that it ‘doesn’t like’ ‘Donald Trump’s apocalyptic warnings’. Yet it urges its readers to remember ‘who the real villain is’ here. Whatever you might think of Trump’s comments, the paper argues, the President is only reacting to Kim’s ‘deranged threats’. So how should Trump respond? Ignoring North Korea isn’t an option, with the Sun saying that Trump’s immediate predecessors in the White House tried that with no success. ‘But Trump’s ultimatums won’t silence Kim either’. Instead, his comments just ‘bolster’ the image of North Korea’s leader ‘as a lone hero facing down the global bully’. So perhaps more carrot than stick is the approach to take, concludes the Sun.

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