President Donald Trump joked, after a Norwegian reporter asked him Wednesday about an American general telling troops “there’s a war coming,” that the general could “know something that I don’t know.”
The remark, during a bilateral news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House, centered on comments Gen. Robert Neller made to 300 US Marines in Norway in December.
“I hope I’m wrong, but there’s a war coming,” Neller said, according to Military.com. “You’re in a fight here, an informational fight, a political fight, by your presence.”
Neller went on to tell the troops that there was a “big-ass fight” coming.
After the Norwegian reporter asked Trump if there was, in fact, a war coming, the President joked, “Well, maybe he knows something that I don’t know, OK?”
Trump focused his answer primarily on the United States’ “very, very powerful military,” but said he did not expect imminent war.
“No, I don’t expect that,” he said. “I think we are going to have, because of strength, peace through strength. I think we’re going to have a long period of peace. I hope we do.”
Trump added: “That’s my opinion. That’s not the general’s opinion. But I think my opinion counts more right now.”
Neller had made his comments while visiting the small group of US troops at the Norwegian Home Guard base near Trondheim, according to the military-focused outlet.
A person who was with Neller on the trip told CNN that the general’s comments had been taken out of context and that his message was primarily that the US military has to be ready at all times.
Solberg jumped in to help Trump after his reply Wednesday, adding that the American troops stationed in Norway are “part of the deterrence strategy that makes sure that we don’t have a war in the future.”
Trump has taken a hard-line military stance on certain issues, primarily North Korea, throughout his presidency. He has promised “fire and fury” in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and recently bragged about the size of the US nuclear arsenal when compared with North Korea’s.
On Wednesday, though, Trump stated that he believes the United States “will have peace through strength.”