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THE BUZZ: A nuclear test of wills

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Saturday, August 12, 2017 12:01 am

The atmosphere this week was sometimes reminiscent of the Cuban missile crisis, the 13-day ordeal that had President Kennedy and the Soviet Union's Nikita Khrushchev going nose to nose over nukes in Cuba and most people wondering if the world as they had known it was about to end.

In retrospect, Kennedy might have been a tad reckless during the confrontation, and the only reason it didn't end badly was that Khrushchev, though a belligerent bully, was not around-the-bend crazy. Some think President Trump is being more than a tad reckless and that North Korea's Kim Jong-un is around-the-bend crazy.

North Korea has been developing and testing its nuclear capabilities for a long time, and its leaders have always made dire threats. But this week, it seemed to many of those in authority that North Korea was much further along than suspected in being capable of striking the U.S., and Kim's rhetoric ratcheted up even further.

Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea the likes of which “the world has never seen,” which sounds very threatening but a little vague. North Korea responded with a demonstration by tens of thousands of people and threats to nuke Guam, which sounds very frightening and quite specific.

Polls released this week, meanwhile, show mixed results when it comes to public support for military involvement. A CNN poll found 50 percent support taking military action in response to North Korea's testing of weapons that could reach the U.S. mainland. But a CBS News poll conducted by the same survey firm over the same period found just 29 percent saying the North Korean threat requires military action now, while twice as many said the threat can be contained (60 percent).

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