Amid the latest signs of escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, President Donald Trump was blasted on Wednesday for ordering B-1 bombers to fly over the Korean peninsula—a move critics characterized as a dangerous but intentional provocation.
According to John Dean, former White House counsel to President Nixon, Trump "thinks he'll be admired for killing millions... so he's trying to provoke war to not be the aggressor."
He thinks he’ll be admired for killing millions. His stupid base would approve, so he’s trying to provoke war to not be the aggressor. https://t.co/VMYaxRQzyE
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) October 11, 2017
Others on social media similarly saw it as a move "to provoke war":
You mean trump makes military fly bombers over Korean Peninsula to provoke a war.
— Katie O'Brien (@k8tobrien) October 11, 2017
Sounds like trump's TRYING to provoke a war https://t.co/z0QBZ0cZgy
— Michelle (@Dragonfly194) October 11, 2017
"Show of force"?? Can we stop trying to provoke North Korea into World War III, please??https://t.co/rTgbLXJy9K
— Cuz I'm The Mom (@maburg512) October 11, 2017
A statement from the U.S. military said the display, which included missile drills over the waters east and west of the peninsula, was the first nighttime exercise conducted between the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and Republic of Korea air force units.
It came hours after President Donald Trump met with his top military advisors to discuss "a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons," and weeks after Kim Jong Un's regime—following ominous threats by Trump—warned of its "right to shoot down the U.S. bombers even when they are not yet inside the airspace border of our country."
U.S. Air Force Maj. Patrick Applegate said of Tuesday drill: "This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies anytime anywhere."
The development comes as a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows that two-thirds of Americans believe Trump's comments about the situation with North Korea have made it worse.