Since President Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" earlier this week, Washington and Pyongyang have both rapidly escalated their threats against one another. Trump's increasingly aggressive rhetoric also included a suggestion on Thursday that North Korea would have "things happen to them like they never thought possible" if the isolated country were to attack the United States or one of its allies. North Korea has responded to Trump's threats with plans to launch a nuclear strike against American military targets in Guam, but Trump nonetheless released a new threat, tweeting Friday that military solutions were "locked and loaded."
Trump's "war of words" has thus far contradicted the efforts of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to defuse tensions and encourage a peaceful resolution — and Twitter has noticed. Social media users' responses to Trump's "locked and loaded" tweet have constituted a significant backlash to the president's choice to put innocent lives at stake just to goad North Korea.
Across the board, Twitter users appear to be horrified that Trump would use so many lives as "a bargaining chip" in his dealings with Pyongyang. When stripping health care from millions of people didn't work, it seems that Trump decided to turn to nuclear war as an alternative.
The responses to this "locked and loaded" tweet are chilling, and raise important points about the consequences of escalating tensions with North Korea in this way.
There seems to be a general consensus that making vague threats — as Trump has been doing all week — merely makes the situation worse. But for many Twitter users, the most worrying aspect of Trump's rhetoric is how he has been playing with people's lives.
There is a widespread belief — and not an unreasonable one — that Trump's actions will get many people killed.
Trump's tweet has also sparked concern about how his actions will impact the United States' image on the global stage. This is unsurprising: For many people, Trump's reportedly improvised rhetoric calls into question his ability to lead.
As these tweets indicate, the question of leadership is hanging in the balance. But Trump's rhetoric also begs the question: What purpose do his remarks actually serve, other than putting lives at risk? The president is apparently trying to match North Korea's typically bombastic threats, but in doing so, he could be goading Pyongyang into actually following through on threats that, until recently, have been relatively unspecific.
As long as these threats continue to escalate, the possibility of a nuclear strike cannot be ruled out. It wouldn't be much of a stretch, therefore, to assume that many Twitter users can't help but agree with the following sentiment: