Trump fires back in war of words with North Korea
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump continued the war of words between North Korea and the U.S. today, as Guam, the small U.S. territory island in the Pacific, became the center of global attention.
Special correspondent Nick Schifrin begins our coverage.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Things will happen to them like they never thought possible.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, President Trump doubled down on his threats against North Korea.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: North Korea better get their act together, or they're going to be in trouble like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world.
NICK SCHIFRIN: He met with his national security team in New Jersey and disparaged a quarter-century of what he called failed North Korea negotiations.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look at Clinton. He folded on the negotiations. He was weak and ineffective. You look what happened with Bush, you look what happened with Obama. Obama, he didn't even want to talk about it.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Meanwhile, on the streets of Pyongyang, this is the season of steadfast support. Tens of thousands of North Koreans, scripted and staged, pledge allegiance to leader Kim Jong-un as he faces off against what they call imperialist America.
And the regime's mouthpiece, state TV, declared the president of the United States reckless.
MAN (through interpreter): Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy, bereft of reason, who is going senile.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The TV announcer said Kim was considering an unusually specific plan, to launch four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles over three districts of Japan, flying for 17 minutes and exactly 2,086 miles, landing 19 to 25 miles off the coast of U.S. territory Guam.
Guam is about the size of Chicago, and, today, the 160,000 residents wavered between fear and faith.
WOMAN: It's actually been scary since yesterday.
MAN: With the military presence here, I am pretty sure we are safe.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. military has been here for 120 years and takes up a third of the island; 7,000 U.S. service members are stationed on an Air Force base with the U.S.' most modern bombers, and a Naval base that's home to fast-attack nuclear submarines.
The island is protected by a high-altitude missile defense system, and it has been threatened by North Korea many times before.
DAVID COHEN, Former Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency: It is destabilizing, it is threatening, but it is not anything new.
NICK SCHIFRIN: David Cohen was the deputy director of the CIA until last year. He says President Trump's rhetoric:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They will be met with fire and fury.
NICK SCHIFRIN: … is music to Kim Jong-un's ears.
DAVID COHEN: The more that the president of the United States engages directly in a war of words with Kim Jong-un, and with the North Korean regime, the more that they are able to use that to solidify and to justify their totalitarian regime.
NICK SCHIFRIN: U.S. officials defend their strategy, saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is committed to diplomacy, allowing the president to be more aggressive as an attempt to finally convince North Korea, as well as China, to change policy.
But that only works if everyone is on the same page.
DAVID COHEN: The difficulty in not having coherent strategy is that the object of that strategy, whether it's North Korea or China, for that matter, doesn't really understand what it is you're trying to accomplish.
NICK SCHIFRIN: And that means the rhetorical and the real tension continue to rise.
For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Nick Schifrin.