At any moment, Donald Trump could be just one tweet away from starting a disastrous war. Yes, that apparently almost happened.
According to journalist and author Bob Woodward, who spoke with CBS’ David Martin about the upcoming release of his new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, Trump almost tweeted a message that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un understandably would have interpreted as an indication that a U.S. attack on North Korea was imminent.
A military response by North Korea would have caused unimaginable destruction.
According to Woodward, the incident occurred in the context of a series of belligerent exchanges last year between the two leaders. These included Trump calling Kim “little Rocket Man” and threatening in a speech at the United Nations to “totally destroy North Korea,” and Kim’s response that Trump is a “dotard.”
Trump reportedly thought he was being clever with a “Rocket Man” tweet, telling former White House aide Rob Porter that it “may be my best ever,” CBS said.
Another tweet Trump wanted to send was unmistakably dangerous. “He drafts a tweet saying, ‘We are going to pull out dependents from South Korea ... Family members of the 28,000 people there,’” Woodward said.
According to CBS:
That tweet was never sent, because of a back channel message from North Korea that it would regard a pullout of dependents as a sign the U.S. was preparing to attack. “At that moment there was a sense of profound alarm in the Pentagon leadership that, ‘My God, one tweet and we have reliable information that the North Koreans are going to read this as an attack is imminent,’” Woodward said.
With a horrific crisis thwarted, the hostilities eventually eased, at least publicly, following a June summit between the two leaders in Singapore.
On Sunday, Reuters reported that North Korea had marked the 70th anniversary of its founding with a military parade that lacked long-range missiles. Instead, the parade focused on conventional arms, peace, and economic development, according to Kim.
Quoting Fox News, Trump tweeted that the parade had been a sign that North Korea is serious about denuclearizing.
“North Korea has just staged their parade, celebrating 70th anniversary of founding, without the customary display of nuclear missiles. Theme was peace and economic development. ‘Experts believe that North Korea cut out the nuclear missiles to show President Trump…its commitment to denuclearize.’ @FoxNews,” Trump tweeted.
“This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea. Thank you To Chairman Kim. We will both prove everyone wrong! There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other! Much better than before I took office.”