If the world's largest economy wishes to avoid full-blown conflict with North Korea, President Donald Trump may need to adopt the measured style of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson instead of engaging in a war of words with the rogue nation.
Two days after Trump's "fire and fury" ultimatum to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which shook the international community and increased fears of military confrontation, the president has once again dialed up the pressure.
The fire and fury statement "wasn't tough enough," Trump said on Thursday, adding that "if he [Kim] does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody's seen before, what will happen in North Korea."
In an attempt to soothe concerns of armed altercations, the president's team has insisted war remains the least desirable option.
Tillerson highlighted diplomacy on Wednesday, telling reporters that "nothing I have seen and nothing I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours. Defense Secretary James Mattis also sought to clarify Washington's strategy, saying late on Thursday that the U.S. preferred a diplomatic approach to the current predicament.
"Tillerson has the right line, he's trying to dial down the pressure to make it clear that the U.S. doesn't want regime change in North Korea," said Daryl Kimball, executive director at U.S.-based Arms Control Association. "Donald Trump needs to follow the lead of his secretary of state."