Saying it was “just an unfortunate misunderstanding,” President Donald Trump backed off comments he made Tuesday afternoon which seemed to suggest he would answer future provocations from North Korea with a military attack using nuclear weapons.
During a press conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the president said this: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
But after close U.S. allies, respected military analysts, Democratic leaders, and key members of his own party quickly condemned the president’s bellicose remarks, he took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to explain his statement:
“My comments yesterday misunderstood! Was using alliteration, per suggestion of Chief of Staff John Kelly, to put more zingers in my tweets …
“Big league apology for causing any alarm. Want to clarify that ‘fun & friendship’ are always America’s first priority (just used more alliteration right there!)”
Alliteration is the repetition of the first letter of a word in a series of multiple words, and is often considered a strong stylistic technique for gaining the attention of a reader. According to Mr. Trump, his new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told him to use alliteration more often in his tweets to improve their readability and effectiveness.
While the president attempted to rectify the damage done by his earlier comments, this did not seem to quell the alarm in much of Asia where a military conflict unleashing unprecedented “fire and fury” — conceivably, the use of nuclear weapons — would likely result in the loss of countless lives and have a devastating health and environmental impact due to radioactive fallout.
In North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang, however, Mr. Trump’s use of provocative alliteration — rather than outright military force — might have had the unexpected consequence of diminishing tensions between the two nations.
A statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Wednesday night said that in response to President Trump’s “application of aggressive alliteration,’ supreme leader Kim Jong-un would be ramping up his use of “sinister similes, synecdoches, and spoonerisms.”
Political observers, military experts, and governments worldwide are now vigilantly watching the unfolding situation to determine whether a “war of words,” rather than a conventional conflict employing lethal weapons and causing many deaths, might be a way to reduce escalating tensions between rival countries.
Some noted that this alternative method of dealing with an adversarial nation is known as “diplomacy.”
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