MATTHEWS: The Associated Press reports the Trump administration is now
exerting maximum pressure to engage with North Korea, so that they can give
up actually their push for nuclear weapons. We talked about that last
Well, taken together, all of this shows an evolution of President Trump`s
military posture. The question is, does he have the ability to pull it
I`m joined right now by Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for “The
Washington Post,” and Ned Ryun, the CEO of American Majority, a former
speechwriter for George W. Bush.
I guess the concern here is, the guy is commander in chief, with tremendous
authority, even in decision-making about attacks on countries. He can
always pick his country. We saw that with Afghanistan. We saw that with
He – I`m not saying he has an itchy trigger finger. We don`t know that,
no reason to believe that yet. But during the campaign, he talked rather
loosey-goosey about nuclear weapons. We could use them perhaps in Europe,
which is almost unimaginable.
He seemed to have the idea that you have this ordnance to use it, not as
deterrence, but to use it. And now there seems to be a growth in his
willingness to use it. We will see.
I see dot. I see a dot. I see Syria. I see a second dot, Afghanistan.
And then I see all this talk about North Korea. I worry about the dots
connecting at some point with activity.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the thing here, though, is,
what`s it all going to lead to? What are…
MATTHEWS: That`s what I`m asking. What`s the answer?
CAPEHART: But that`s the question. What is the – really, what is the
foreign policy underpinning – underpinning of all this?
MATTHEWS: Is he getting more militarist? He ran as an anti-militarist.
He ran against going to war in stupid wars.
CAPEHART: Well, he said in stupid wars, but he also said on the campaign
trail, I`m going to bomb the blank out of them.
NED RYUN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MAJORITY: The crap out of ISIS.
MATTHEWS: Well, put that together, Ned. What is it? How can you be
dovish on actual on-the-ground troops, but hawkish on use of airpower and
artillery or whatever?
RYUN: I mean, here`s the thing. He definitely knows how to draw a bright
red line in regards to Syria. Used chemical weapons, 63 hours, we respond.
Dealing with ISIS, I`m going to bomb the crap out of ISIS. He`s been
saying that for two years. Also realizing that we – do we really want a
crazy fat kid in North Korea with nuclear weapons?
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you keep calling him names? That`s going to help.
RYUN: Well, no, I`m merely quoting – I`m merely quoting John – Senator
John McCain here. And so I think what I`m seeing here is, a lot of Trump
supporters, we don`t want to see nation-building.
MATTHEWS: How do you do – how do you go in – and, look, everybody in
this country – Americans are pretty similar about this. They like neat,
bite-size wars, quickies in and out, get out of it – accomplish a goal,
send a message, and get out.
MATTHEWS: But, sometimes, they`re sticky situations.
You start bombing somebody, they might bomb you back. Then you have to go
in. Vietnam was the great example of an escalating thing that we thought
was just an air attack. It became a half-million troops.
RYUN: No, and I think what we want to see here and what we are seeing up
to this point is setting – a reset of America, coming back to the
international stage, saying you will accommodate us. You will accommodate
I think the real breaking point will be, though, if for some reason we go
towards this, we`re going to send in 10,000 troops for regime change and
nothing-building. He will lose a lot of supporters.
MATTHEWS: Well, remember Muhammad Ali? Muhammad Ali said he floated like
a butterfly and stung like a bee. That`s great policy, if you can do it.
CAPEHART: Well, look, if you think about it, the Obama administration was
all about covert action. We will send SEAL teams in.
CAPEHART: SEAL teams, drones. And President Trump is all about the big,
ostentatious show of power.
MATTHEWS: Big hands.
CAPEHART: Yes, 59 Tomahawks, Mother of All…
CAPEHART: Yes, MOAB, Mother of All Bombs.
But the question here is, what comes after that? What`s the policy after
sending in 59 Tomahawks, after dropping…
MATTHEWS: Well, the other point is, these other sides are not disarmed
nations either. They have the ability to wreak havoc the other way.
And I just wonder. North Korea has got enough conventional firepower along
the 38th power to eliminate South Korea. They could just – they could
just start – you have seen these pictures of all those guns firing at
They could just do it. And they can do it because we said the wrong thing
in a press conference.
CAPEHART: Or a tweet.
RYUN: There`s a certain amount – you know, this unpredictability – and I
MATTHEWS: You like that?
RYUN: I do like it, because I think it`s throwing our enemies off-balance.
MATTHEWS: Do you ever take a look at the other guy on the other side? Do
you want to confront him with unpredictability, that guy with the haircut?
RYUN: But here`s the – well, here`s the deal. It`s, he`s off-balance.
We will see what happens. I think to solve the North Korea…
MATTHEWS: Would you be unpredictable with a person you thought was off-
That`s the – no, you wouldn`t, Ned. You know you wouldn`t.
RYUN: No, I think – right now, I think we`re throwing him off-balance. I
MATTHEWS: OK. A guy is standing there with a gun pointed at you, Ned.
Would you call him a fat kid? Hey, fatty. You would be done.
RYUN: If he had a gun pointed at me? Of course not.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what we`re talking about.
RYUN: No, it`s not.
MATTHEWS: That`s what we`re talking about.
CAPEHART: That`s where we are right now.
RYUN: We`re taking a strong stance. China is going to have to be a part
of this. We`re hearing talk of them cutting out 90 percent of – they
provide 90 percent of…
MATTHEWS: We had the experts on a few minutes ago.
MATTHEWS: And the experts seemed to say that China, under Max Baucus, who
was our ambassador there for three years, they`re not really willing to go
all the way and put the pressure on.
There`s a lot of skepticism that they want to take on their communist ally
in North Korea and really push them.
RYUN: But I think Trump is pushing it to say we have to deal with this
now. We know that he has nuclear weapons. We know that he has not gotten
to the point of putting those on an inter – ballistic missile.
RYUN: So we have got to stop it right now.
MATTHEWS: Ned, one question for both of you. I don`t know your answers
Ready? Tell me something I don`t know. Is he smart to gin this up, to
heat it up, rather than go the slow, strategic waiting thing that went on
before? Is it better to push this thing now, before they get strategic
weapons that can reach us, push it now, bring it home now, force the
reckoning now, rather than wait? What`s better, now or later?
RYUN: We have taken eight years. We have tried that path. Let`s take
this path and say we`re not going to get to that point.
MATTHEWS: Jon, where are you? Pressure him now? Pressure him now, or
CAPEHART: It`s a gamble. And, look, we`re pressuring him right now.
MATTHEWS: What would you do?
CAPEHART: And the – I would still keep – I would ratchet up the pressure
a little bit, not like he`s doing now.
But here`s the one thing we have to keep in mind, Chris. In the last
interview that Susan Rice did as national security adviser with
journalists, the Wednesday before inauguration, she was asked, what`s the
number one thing President Trump is going to have to worry about? North
Korea. And so I think that`s…
MATTHEWS: I think that, too. But you and I know that. We all know that.
I mean, we`re all reading the papers. It`s scary, because we don`t have a
Khrushchev or a Brezhnev, somebody on this side who may be an ideologue,
but does have interests.
MATTHEWS: We don`t even know what Kim Jong-un`s interests are. We can`t
even figure that out. Is it survival? We don`t even know that.
RYUN: But here`s the thing. Do we deal with them now, before they get to
that point, or do we let them get to that point?
MATTHEWS: I think you make a good point. I think it might be the right
Jonathan, I think, may agree.
CAPEHART: It`s scary.
MATTHEWS: It`s scary. It`s a little scary.
CAPEHART: It`s a scary point.
RYUN: At some point, you got to make a decision.
MATTHEWS: Who wants to wait for him to have his full arsenal ready?
CAPEHART: All you need in that gun is one bullet, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Frighteningly true.
Jonathan Capehart, that`s why you write the big stuff. Ned Ryun, thank