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At U.N.: Pres. Trump threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to

UNIVERSITY OF UTAH – President Trump’s strong words against Kim Jong Un are making international headlines.  But, did the president make a mistake by calling the North Korean leader “Rocket Man?”

Personal insults from one world leader to another are nothing new.  President George W. Bush was once called “a donkey” and “the devil” by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.  President Barack Obama was once called an S.O.B. by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

University of Utah Law Professor and counter-terrorism expert Amos Guiora says personal insults are normally counterproductive.  However, he says there are lots of questions about who the president was really speaking to.  Guiora asks, “Was he playing to the American audience?  The international community? Was he playing to the Chinese?”

If President Trump was speaking to Kim Jong Un directly, Guiora says the message likely fell on deaf ears.  He adds, “It’s important to remember that national leaders don’t represent themselves.  They represent their countries.  You always have to think in terms of geopolitics and what are the consequences of making a personal statement like this.”

Guiora believes the president may have been wise not to be too specific in his speech.  There was no specific event lined out by the president that would force the U.S. to attack.  He says, “He didn’t draw a ‘red line in the sand’ the way that President Obama did with respect to Syria and the way that [Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had done with respect to Iran.”  He adds that when these “lines” were crossed, neither the U.S. nor Israel did anything about it.  “I think both President Obama and [Prime Minister] Netanyahu lost a lot of credibility in the international community.”

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Richard Drew)