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Many years ago, while dealing with a difficult child, my wife and I took “Parent Effectiveness Training.” One of the primary lessons that stuck with us was, if you make a promise or a threat, you better follow through.

Explained with hyperbole, “If you say you are going to kill them, you better do it. Otherwise, no threat/promise you ever make will stick.” A couple of lessons there: Have the discipline to think before you attempt to modify behavior with undesirable consequences and follow through with the action that you verbalized.

Past leadership failures to follow through with threatened consequences and “red lines” have caused allies, enemies, and tinpot dictators to question our national resolve. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is basically an adolescent who was given a country and anything he wants on a silver platter. President Trump needs to understand that bombastic off-the-cuff threats are not going to improve Kim's behavior.

President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Our leadership needs to deliberately consider what can modify Kim’s behavior. Especially, with China now somewhat on board, there may be options that we haven’t yet identified. Then, if that doesn’t work, use the stick. But, use it without advertising the blow. Hopefully, we won’t have to get there.

Bill Porter

Davenport

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