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Tamping Down North Korean Threats, U.S. Stress Levels

Tension between the U.S and North Korea has ramped up the stress many Americans report feeling during the last several months. (
Tension between the U.S and North Korea has ramped up the stress many Americans report feeling during the last several months. (
August 14, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Sunday morning political talk shows were full of U.S. officials playing down the possibility of a nuclear conflict with North Korea. They insist there is no imminent threat of missile strikes on the U.S. or Guam, despite President Donald Trump's threats last week.

Indiana University Political Science Professor Edward Carmines said the President's harsh words and constant tweets also continue to fuel tensions between Democrats and Republicans. He noted that the rift between the parties started widening in the 1970s, and said he feels Trump might have to change his behavior to make the kind of progress in office that he touted on the campaign trail.

"It's become even more difficult to forge any kind of compromises on any kind of public policy because of the antagonism that had built up between the parties, and now [is] exacerbated by the introduction of Trump and the Trump presidency,” Carmines said.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and CIA Director Mike Pompeo both appeared on the Sunday talk shows to say the U.S. and its allies are trying to resolve the North Korean standoff without resorting to military action.

Carmines said he agrees that diplomacy - not bravado - is what's needed. He's concerned that the President's tough talk about North Korea may continue to keep that region, and the U.S., on edge.

"There seems to be a real sense of worry and unease,” he said. "And quite frankly, some of the rhetoric that comes out of the White House is not helpful to try and reassure people that there's really a way of dealing with some of the, you know, major problems and challenges that face the country."

In a survey earlier this year by the American Psychological Association, 57 percent of the respondents described the current political climate as a major source of stress - and that survey was taken before the standoff with North Korea.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN