Fecteau: Trump’s Nuke Bluff Backfired

Thursday, August 10, 2017


View Larger +

Donald Trump

It is concerning when the President of the United States sounds a lot like the strongman of North Korea – Kim Jong-Un. During a photo op, President Donald J. Trump came out saying it will face “fire, fury, and frankly, power” like never seen before if it continues to threaten the United States. Regrettably, Mr. Trump’s ambiguous, toothless saber rattling just seriously undermined his credibility if he fails to deliver.

Was Mr. Trump threatening nuclear war with this statement? No one is quite sure. Mr. Trump hasn’t yet clarified his remarks. Some have speculated he was, in fact, referring to nuclear war with such bombastic rhetoric. This comes at a time when the United Nations Security Council has imposed even more stringent sanctions against North Korea, making the hermit state that much more desperate.

Mr. Trump could be trying to intimidate North Korea, but no one does crazy quite like North Korea. Predictably, within hours, North Korea threatened a preemptive strike against the United States, specifically looking forward to attacking the U.S. territory of Guam. This was met with — obviously — no “fire, fury." Instead, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came out with a bland disclaimer saying North Korea isn't likely going to strike Guam.

While Mr. Tillerson tried to alleviate some concerns saying: “Americans should sleep well at night,” the damage has already been done. No one should endorse the nuclear option; it is bad all around, but when the president of the United States says something and fails to deliver, the entire country and the president look weak and utterly incompetent.

Mr. Trump's erratic behavior should be concerning to the entire the world — no one wants nuclear war so why flirt with the idea of it? Some intelligence agencies assessed North Korea developed a miniature nuclear warhead that can fit onto a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile which it has in its possession, capable of hitting the U.S. mainland – a scary thought.

Mr. Trump’s empty rhetoric was entertaining on his reality television show, but this is real life and he is the president of the United States. These are real nuclear weapons that can wipe out millions if not the entire planet. I never heard another U.S. president threaten a country with nuclear war though Mr. Trump is certainly not a conventional president. We’ve seen this television rhetoric before whether it is a beauty queen or Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. This time, nevertheless, is far more serious involving a nuclear holocaust.

Mr. Trump just undermined his standing and the credibility of the United States massively if he does nothing in the face of North Korea’s threats. Remember when President Barack Obama talked about red lines with Syria? Mr. Obama's credibility was called into question by many conservatives and Republicans when President Obama failed to deliver on the promise to hold President of Syria Bashir al-Assad accountable. Well, now Mr. Trump just warned (or potentially warned) of something he likely won’t deliver on – nuclear war.

When Trump makes more threats, Mr. Trump won't be seen as credible, and not taken seriously. This is the consequence of electing a bully as a president. Bullies are bullies for a reason, serious insecurity issues. They intimidate, yet retreat in the face of even the slightest hint of adversity. North Korea just stood up to the United States (including Mr. Trump) and won.

I am happy Mr. Trump isn’t going ahead with his threat, but also concerned about why he would make it in the first place. This is serious, and the United States should be the adult in the room when dealing with pariah states like North Korea; unfortunately, in this case, it looked like a big bully who backed down from a fight.   


View Larger +

Matthew J. Fecteau is a M.P.A. candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a former Congressional candidate, and an Iraq War veteran.


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump’s Budget - 2017

View Larger +
Prev Next

Gina Raimondo 

RI Governor 

"Rhode Island is making strong progress to provide our people with the education and job training they need to be successful and to expand access to affordable, quality health care to virtually everyone in our state. 

President Trump's budget betrays Rhode Islanders by giving huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans while drastically reducing federal funding for vital programs that create jobs, raise wages, and protect low-income Americans. 

Even as we analyze President Trump's budget in the coming days to determine its specific impacts on Rhode Island, I appreciate the members of Rhode Island's Congressional Delegation for their leadership and advocacy, and I join them in calling on their colleagues in Washington, D.C. to stop the Trump administration from making massive cuts to health care, public schools, affordable housing, and other programs that Rhode Islanders rely upon."

View Larger +
Prev Next

Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

“In March, President Trump released a budget outline that I strongly condemned for its drastic cuts to programs that help everyday Americans. Unfortunately, the President’s full budget proposal continues these harmful policies by gutting programs that invest in our economy, create jobs and provide crucial assistance to families across the country. 

This proposal slashes funding for education, food assistance and health care for low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities. It makes cuts to worker training, environmental protection, and investments in medical research and advanced manufacturing. These are not mere luxuries, but programs that make meaningful differences in the lives of Rhode Islanders. 

Congress must reject this cynical and misguided budget. Instead, we should work together in a bipartisan manner, as we did on the recently passed 2017 funding bill, to find a balanced approach to funding priorities that will support families, promote economic growth and provide for our national security.”  

View Larger +
Prev Next

David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

“If a budget is a statement of your priorities and values, then Donald Trump’s budget shows he doesn’t understand the challenges facing honest, hardworking Rhode Islanders. This is a budget written by the wealthiest Americans for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But it’s a setback for the middle class. It makes life harder for anyone who’s trying to punch a ticket to the middle class.”

Donald Trump has already proposed a huge tax cut for billionaires. But the budget he released today says everyone else is on their own. This budget eliminates hundreds of millions of dollars for job creation. It zeroes out funding for workforce training and good-paying manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island. And it makes it even harder for young people to succeed by cutting teacher training, eliminating afterschool funding, and making it harder to pay off student loans.”

This budget does nothing to address Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure. It eliminates the TIGER grant program, which is critical to supporting local infrastructure projects like the new commuter rail station in Pawtucket. And it cuts funding for public transit by $928 million.”

And most worrisome of all, this budget makes our towns and cities less safe. It actually cuts funding for firefighters. It cuts billions from the EPA and other resources to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. And it slashes $978 million from the Army Corps of Engineers – meaning Rhode Island will be less prepared for hurricanes and have fewer resources to protect the quality of our waterways.”

Plain and simple, this is not a budget that any Member of Congress should be comfortable supporting. Along with my colleagues in the House Democratic Leadership, I will do everything I can to reverse these devastating cuts and shape a budget that invests in the future of our country and puts honest, hardworking families first.”

View Larger +
Prev Next

Sheldon Whitehouse 

U.S. Senator

“This budget is reckless, plain and simple. The President proposes massive cuts to Medicaid, breaking yet another campaign promise. He seeks to decimate the federal government’s central command in the battle against the opioid crisis affecting communities from Burrillville to Westerly. He pursues tens of billions of dollars in cuts to student loans and loan forgiveness programs.

His plan would slash funding for research into life-saving cures; lay waste to endowments that support Rhode Island’s world-class cultural institutions; hamstring the EPA so big polluters can poison our air and water; and weaken NOAA, sapping critical resources for coastal economies like Rhode Island’s. The list goes on.

These senseless, irresponsible choices serve one purpose: to pave the way for tax cuts for the very wealthiest.  The good news is that this extremist proposal will go nowhere in the Senate. I look forward to moving past this political stunt of a budget and working on one the American people will support.”

View Larger +
Prev Next

Jack Reed 

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s budget is bad news for Rhode Island because it weakens our economy and places new burdens on families, businesses, and communities across the country. 

The Trump budget takes a less is more approach: less investment in education, health care, transportation and safety for the general public and more pollution, outsourcing jobs overseas, and tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected.

This irresponsible budget would be a real setback for middle-class families and seniors in particular.  The $800 billion in Medicaid cuts could cause over 10 million low-income Americans to lose their health coverage.  If this budget were enacted, more elderly Americans could be forced to go from assisted living to living on the streets.  That is immoral and ill-advised.

The Trump cuts also threaten federal funding for public education, medical research, job training and economic development. These cuts are counterproductive and won’t achieve real cost-savings.  In fact, they would impede economic growth.

Families with limited incomes who are trying to make ends meet get hit hardest by the Trump budget.  It takes food, health care, and retirement security away from children, seniors, and people with disabilities while adding funds for an ineffective border wall and tax cuts for millionaires.  It eliminates the LIHEAP energy assistance program, Community Development Block Grants, and many other critical, cost-effective programs that have a positive impact on Rhode Island. 

While our military deserves to be well-funded, cutting diplomacy and foreign aid won’t help prevent war.  These are the wrong priorities for America and don’t reflect our core values.

I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight these disastrous cuts and enact a more balanced, fiscally responsible budget that focuses on job creation and strengthening the middle-class.”


Enjoy this post? Share it with others.


Sign Up for the Daily Eblast

I want to follow on Twitter

I want to Like on Facebook


Stay Connected — Free
Daily Email