President Donald Trump kicked off his 12-day trip to Asian countries, which includes stops in South Korea, Vietnam, China and the Philippines, with a visit to Japan.
On the first leg of his five-nation trip, Trump addressed servicemen and women at the Yokota airbase and made some strong remarks aimed at North Korea — including a thinly veiled warning targeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
“No one, no dictator, no regime … should underestimate American resolve,” the commander-in-chief told the cheering attendees.
Without once mentioning North Korea by name, Trump reminded adversaries “every once in a while” they “underestimate” America to disastrous consequences.
With this address, Trump seems to have continued with a tradition of scathing, and often reckless, criticism of a country that has made significant advancements in its nuclear program.
Trump’s remarks were lauded by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has expressed anxiety at hermit kingdom’s aggression in the region.
North Korea previously launched two rocket missiles over northern Japan. It is expected that Abe will seek a reiteration of the U.S.’ commitment to peace in the region.
However, Trump’s forceful rhetoric is not expected to receive such a warm welcome in other countries he is scheduled to visit.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed reservations at Trump’s eagerness to take on North Korea, saying no aggression should take place on the Korean peninsula without his consent.
Political pundits also believe Trump may be exacerbating the situation by resorting to threats.
“Trumpian rhetoric to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea is not helpful at a time when, alarmingly, the likelihood of all-out war on the Korean Peninsula has moved from remotely possible to almost palpable,” William Choong and Alexander Neill, senior fellows at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, wrote in a report.
However, Trump seems adamant on disregarding the advice of experts by continuing on his harsh rhetoric.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster indicated Trump will continue with his aggressive tone overseas as well.
“The president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously,” McMaster said. “I don’t think the president really modulates his language. I mean, have you noticed him do that? He has been very clear about that.”
Trump visit to the Asia comes at a crucial time, as he is under immense pressure at home with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe.
The fact that two of Trump’s ex-aides were indicted raises serious questions and also mounts pressure on the president.
The president has called the investigation “very distracting.” However, it is yet to see how he will tackle developments in the probe and North Korean threat at the same time.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Toru Hanai