Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, told NBC News that the heated rhetoric coming from North Korea and the U.S. "has taken away options -- for leaders to make decisions."
Mullen joined Chuck Todd on Meet the Press to discuss the volatile situation with Kim Jong-un.
Todd asked, "How concerned are you right now with the situation between the rhetoric and all of that? How concerned are you and how concerned should we be as American citizens about this situation?"
Mullen said, "Well, I'm really concerned, because I don't know where this goes in terms of a peaceful resolution. It's an incredibly difficult, complex problem, and we have rhetoric, some very strong rhetoric, coming from both North Korea, as well as from the United States. And that rhetoric, it seems to me, has taken away options or its reduced maneuver space, if you will, for leaders to make decisions. So I am extremely concerned..."
Mullen said that China has to come into play so the rift "can be resolved politically, diplomatically through negotiations to ensure that we don't have a military conflict that could just get out of control."
Todd asked, "You said you're concerned the rhetoric has limited options. What options are you concerned that the president has eliminated with his rhetoric?"
Mullen replied, "Well, I think it eliminates maneuver space for him because it looks like brinkmanship to me. And it looks like clearly he’s, at least, verbally focused very specifically on the military options with the rhetoric that's out there."
He continued, "It's almost a fire and brimstone 'Don't make another move or else.' And the comment that military options are locked and loaded – We've always had military options, and they're very complex, but they can be executed. It almost seems as if we're leading with those, which makes an awful lot of... it unsettles an awful lot of people."
Trump did his best to imitate George C. Scott's "Patton" and in the real world, between hostile regimes, words do matter. This is not a freaking movie.
Telling the world that you'll burn down another country because they use threatening language is not the type of actions competent leaders take. And if North Korea then continue to issue threats, will Trump's ego force him to make a first strike?
The U.S. has always had military options, which could lead to another terrible war, maybe a third world war and the right's fascination with talking tough is childish, ridiculous and as we are seeing, very dangerous.