Republican Sen. John McCain criticized President Donald Trump for verbally attacking North Korea.
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States," Trump warned during on Aug. 8 photo op at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, as quoted by the Daily Mail. "They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before."
The president's comment was in reaction to a comment by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's response to the latest United Nations sanctions, which were imposed on that country on Aug. 5.
Kim had warned the United States that it would pay "pay dearly" for orchestrating the sanctions.
Trump's "fire and fury" warning didn't seem to faze Kim, who responded that his country was "carefully examining" a plan to strike the U.S. military base at Guam.
McCain thinks that if Trump makes a threat he should follow through on it, as he explained in a radio interview on Aug. 8. "I take exception to the president's comments because you've got to be sure you can do what you say you're going to do," he said. "The great leaders I've seen don't threaten unless they're ready to act and I'm not sure President Trump is ready to act."
It was "classic Trump," he added.
"We need to be firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe," Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said in a statement issued Aug. 8.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein contended that Trump's "bombastic" comments dangerously escalated tensions.
New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, worried that "the President's unhinged reaction suggests he might consider using American nuclear weapons in response to a nasty comment from a North Korean despot."
Former U.S. diplomat Douglas Paal, now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, denounced Trump's words as unstatesmanlike.
"It strikes me as an amateurish reflection of a belief that we should give as we get rhetorically. That might be satisfying at one level, but it takes us down into the mud that we should let Pyongyang enjoy alone," said Paal, who served as a White House official under previous Republican administrations.
Writing for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, leading North Korea expert Bruce Cumings explained the reasoning behind that country's hostile rhetoric.
“North Korea’s obstreperous behavior, so exasperating to foreign powers, might also be seen as a Game Theory 101 strategy by a small country surrounded by bigger powers who, when all is said and done, really don’t like their smaller neighbor," Cumings said. "Roar loudly, beat your chest, threaten all manner of mayhem, and recall Muhammad Ali’s maxim: ‘I don’t have to be who you want me to be.’"
In an editorial in The Nation magazine, Cumings argued that dealing with that nation requires caution and diplomacy. "It has the fourth-largest army in the world, as many as 200,000 highly trained special forces, 10,000 artillery pieces in the mountains north of Seoul, mobile missiles that can hit all American military bases in the region (there are hundreds), and nuclear weapons more than twice as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb."
North Korea has long been under sanctions, as The Washington Post observes. The latest sanctions are designed to further harm the economy of the already-impoverished nation, while removing parts of previous sanctions which were aimed at avoiding "adverse humanitarian consequences."