‘Speak softly & carry a big stick’: US Navy tweets Roosevelt quote, photo of aircraft carrier


As tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continue, the US Navy has tweeted a photo of an aircraft carrier with the caption “speak softly, and carry a big stick” – a phrase made famous by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The US 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, tweeted the photo of the carrier on Thursday. Underneath the photo is the phrase made famous by Roosevelt himself. The 26th US president wrote those very words in a letter to Henry L. Sprague in January 1900, saying he had “always been fond of the West African proverb.”

Roosevelt used the phrase again while serving as vice president in 1901, while outlining his ideal foreign policy. He became president just two weeks later following the assassination of President William McKinley, finally putting “big stick diplomacy” into action.

The most well-known example of this during Roosevelt’s presidency was when a group of US warships known as the Great White Fleet peacefully toured the world in a show of military strength. Since then, the term has been defined as peaceful negotiations with the unspoken threat of a powerful military. It appears the US 5th Fleet is now showing its military might.

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However, the tweet comes at a time when Washington has been accused of throwing around saber-rattling rhetoric against North Korea and acting provocatively with its joint military exercises with other countries in the region.

While the US flexes its muscles, North Korea is not showing signs of weakness. Pyongyang hosted an impressive military parade on Thursday, complete with female sword dancers, a red carpet, and a grinning Kim Jong-un.

As fears mount that tensions between the two will boil over into open military conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has recently warned that such an option would cost more than a million lives. He also pointed out that Washington is increasingly resorting to threats when dealing with Pyongyang.

“We are seeing how the United States every time attempts both to tighten the sanction screws [on North Korea] and to threaten it with the use of force,” Lavrov said.

Moscow and Beijing have backed the UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea over its missile tests. However, both also noted on numerous occasions that only a path of dialogue can help resolve the knot on the Peninsula.

In mid-January this year US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard warned it is the US and its obsession with regime change that is fueling tensions and forcing Pyongyang to arm itself to the teeth. Gabbard noted that Pyongyang has been offered “unrealistic preconditions” for talks for decades.

“If we set a precondition that Kim Jong-un must get rid of his nuclear weapons, there would be nothing to negotiate. We need to invite North Korea to the table and talk about peace,” Gabbard wrote.

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