All of this makes it even more difficult to set credible lines on North Korea
's behavior and nuclear program in the future. This is not a reality television show -- it's reality. It is tempting to chalk these remarks up to Trump's shoot-from-the-hip, loose-cannon style and say that everything will be all right because no one should or will take them seriously. But historically, when presidents of the United States
speak, nations sit up and take notice. There is no reason to think North Korea
will ignore Trump's words. And now the United States
must either carry out the president's threat and literally risk nuclear war, or admit it was a bluff and risk further emboldening North Korea
and eroding the East Asian alliance structure so painstakingly built and reaffirmed for over 60 years.