North Korea has threatened to fire missiles at Guam, a US territory home to thousands of US citizens and a major US Air Force base.

What if the missiles fell short or missed the island?

What’s the big deal? It’s “just a missile test.”

That was the thrust of CNN host Alisyn Camerota statement this morning:

“If these missiles, if they do this, and if these go into the waters off Guam, they don’t hit Guam, then isn’t this just another sort of provocation and a missile test? Does it have to be responded to with force?”

Camerota’s sloughing off the significance of missiles near Guam must be understood in the context of President Trump’s statement. He said:

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen.”

Firing missiles near Guam would surely constitute a “threat” to the United States. That is not to say that it would require an all-out attack on North Korea in response. But to react by saying, “oh well, just another missile test” and fail to employ some kind of force in response would be an unmistakable signal of weakness to North Korea, China and other bad actors around the world.

Panelist Gordon Chang agreed with Camerota’s suggestion that force would not be required in response to such an action by North Korea. He recommended cracking down on “money laundering.” Right. After decades of sanctions that did nothing to slow the North Korean march toward nuclear capability, targeting money laundering will stop them now. Of course.

The wisdom of President Trump’s “fire and fury” statement can be debated. But now that he has laid down that red line, America will back away from it at its peril. Yet that is exactly what Camerota was promoting.

The irony is that if North Korea did carry out such a missile launch, and the US did not use force in response, we can well imagine CNN out there criticizing President Trump for failing to enforce his red line.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Are they just baiting the president? I mean in other words, if these missiles, if they do this, and if these go into the waters off Guam, they don’t hit Guam, then isn’t this just another sort of provocation and a missile test? Does it have to be responded to with force?

GORDON CHANG: No, it certainly doesn’t have to be responded with force. And I think there’s some non-kinetic options that we have that could really put the North Koreans and the Chinese on the back foot.

CAMEROTA: Meaning what?

CHANG: I think the one thing we should be doing is enforcing US law against money laundering.