Morell: "Playground game of dare, double dare" with North Korea is dangerous

Morell on U.S.-N. Korea tension

CBS News senior security contributor Michael Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA, joined the "CBS Evening News" from Tokyo Thursday to discuss the latest tensions between the U.S. and North Korea

In a conversation with CBS News' Anthony Mason, he called President Trump's recent statements on North Korea "reckless," and said that Mr. Trump is narrowing policy options. He also said the "playground game of dare, double dare is dangerous." 

ANTHONY MASON: Michael, the president said his "fire and fury" warning wasn't tough enough. From your vantage point in Tokyo what do you think?

MICHAEL MORELL: Anthony, I think the president's statements of the last two days are reckless and I think they're reckless for two reasons. One is that Kim Jong-Un has been shown to be provokable. And so this playground game of dare, double dare is dangerous. The second is that statement such as this box the president in from a policy perspective. At a time when he should be trying to maximize policy options, he's narrowing them. He's at risk of making the same mistake here that President Obama made on the Syria red line. So, I don't think the statements are helpful to - to U.S. interests.

Michael Morell CBS News

MASON: At the same time Secretary of State Tillerson appears to be trying to calm things down. Are mixed signals damaging U.S. credibility though?

MORREL: Anthony, clarity in foreign policy is one of the keys to success. And right now we have three voices. We have the president's very tough rhetoric that's being read as possible U.S. preemptive action. You got Secretary Tillerson's statements which walk back significantly. And then you got Secretary of Defense Mattis' statements that are tough but they talk about a U.S. response to a first step by North Korea. 

One of the great frustrations here in East Asia is they don't know what U.S. policy is and they're asking, what is U.S. strategy?

MASON: Michael Morell in Tokyo, thanks very much for being with us.

MORELL: You're welcome.