Hours after President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it launched nuclear weapons, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said a different tactic would be better.
“Let’s not go crazy every time they shoot missiles,” Powell told a crowd at the University of Michigan today. “Start ignoring them and maybe you can find a different way to solve this. It would probably drive them crazy if we ignored one of their launches and after the media interest went away, it would die down.”
That approach is rooted in how you view the North Koreans, Powell said, and what happen if the weapons were launched.
“North Koreans would be committing suicide if they use nuclear weapons,” he said.
Powell doesn’t see North Korea launching the weapons, largely because it wouldn’t serve any good.
“There is no strategic advantage to the North Koreans to destroy two neighborhoods in San Francisco. It does nothing for them.”
He also said he thinks China would keep North Korea in check.
“They (China) don’t want a war because it would destabilize the region and destabilize China. If there was a war, North Koreans would flee and where would they have to go? There would be thousands heading into China,” said Powell, who also served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and national security advisor under President Ronald Reagan.
Powell’s approach was different than Trump’s, taken earlier in the day during a speech at the United Nations.
“”it is far past time for the nations of the world to confront” Kim Jong Un and said that Kim’s “reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons” poses a threat to “the entire world with an unthinkable loss of human life,” Trump told world leaders.
Trump also hurled an insult at Kim Jong Un, calling him “rocket man.”
Insulting leaders never helps in crisises, Powell said at U-M.
“One of the problems we are having now in our foreign policy is we are spending too much time insulting people,” Powell said. “Diplomacy is listening to what the other guy needs. Preserving your own position, but listening to the other guy.
“You have to develop relationships with other people so when the tough times come you can work together. You have to listen.”
Powell also said, “we need to lower the temperature.”
Asked by a reporter after the speech about that comment, Powell said he never said Donald Trump’s name in that comment, but rather urged the whole country to calm down.
He said that approach was what has been called the Powell Doctrine in war.
“You have to make sure you know why you are going to war and then use decisive force to end it as soon as possible.”
Powell spoke at the James R. Mellor Lecture. He took questions from U-M College of Engineering Dean Alec Gallimore.
Among the other topics touched on during the nearly one hour session and then with media afterwards:
* On race relations: “What we have to do in this country is make sure we don’t teach our children to hate.”
* On polarized politics: “The country would be a lot better off if we stopped having comment sections. And if we got rid of Twitter.”
* On Russia: “Russia isn’t going to start a war. They can’t afford it. I think Mr. Putin can be dealt with if we stop screaming at him. You can work with the guy. You just have to know who he is.”
* On racial incidents on campuses, such as racist names left on black student dorm rooms at U-M: “Don’t let one nut with a spray can ruin the (unity) of the campus.”
(c)2017 the Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.