In the past 72 hours, President Trump has threatened North Korea with a nuclear attack, suggested that threat may not have been "tough enough" and then, on Friday morning, boasted that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" in preparation for an attack on the Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang.
At no time in recent history has an American president been so free with threats of nuclear war. The flurry of bellicosity has, even more than usual over the first six months of Donald Trump's presidency, led to critics of the president loudly questioning his sanity.
That may be exactly what Trump wants.
In 1969, another American president in his first term in the Oval Office faced an intractable problem in Asia -- one that he had repeatedly promised to solve while on the campaign trail just a few months before. Having made no progress by his first summer in the White House, he decided to dramatically raise the stakes.
The president was Richard Nixon, and the problem frustrating him was the war in Vietnam. In the summer after taking office, despite the serious reservations of U.S. military leaders, he ordered the armed forces to high alert and sent nuclear-armed bombers to skirt the eastern border of the Soviet Union on three consecutive says.