(Cartoon by Kap, La Vanguardia, Spain)
His completely irresponsible tweets and outbursts about North Korea have almost become a mundane daily feature, but there's nothing -- absolutely nothing normal about the way President Trump is handling the worsening crisis between America and the Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang.
In fact, we should be a lot more terrified by Trump's behavior than we are.
Remember when Trump embarrassed himself and all Americans when he publicly blurted that if North Korea conducts another missile test they'll be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen?" Not only did these remarks escalate tensions between Kim and the west, but of course the boy leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) called Trump's idiotic bluff. Ever since Trump threatened "fire and fury," there have been three separate missile tests, one of which involved several missiles, and there have been two underground warhead detonations -- that we know of.
No fire and/or fury in response, of course.
Trump walked right into this one. Now his words mean even less than they did before he popped off with his silly, ill-conceived threat, undermining American negotiating power and, even more importantly, America's reputation among its allies. And yet he keeps pushing forward with the same childish non-strategy better suited to a Scooby-Doo villain than an American commander-in-chief.
Since early August, "fire and fury" has been replaced by "Rocket Man" -- Trump's latest attempt to, I don't know, insult Kim Jong-un? It's unclear what advantage he's winning here. Is this nickname supposed to irritate Kim Jong-un or is it inadvertently empowering him?
It seems like both, neither of which we should be necessarily doing. Not only does it hand the regime another excuse to demonize the United States as bullies threatening the might and the sovereignty of North Korea, but it also makes us seem foolish and unserious, as if our entire strategy is ripped from Trump's Twitter addiction -- another silly zinger for the gawking delight of Trump's brainwashed fanboys. The thing is, this is exactly what it's doing: jerking-off Trump's supporters while exacerbating the crisis. And so far, the White House has failed to offer a valid explanation for why this name-calling business has been deployed.
But then, over the weekend, Trump's behavior worsened. As we were focused on the NFL, Trump slipped a North Korea tweet into the mix.
Yes, another empty poop-tweet threat from Donald Trump. This time, he threatened the DPRK's foreign minister, suggesting that if Ri Yong-ho says anything similar to what Kim has said, North Korea "won't be around much longer." In other words, Trump threatened to completely destroy Pyongyang (or worse) if Ri echoed Kim in his UN remarks.
The problem with empty threats is that they inflame situations with exactly zero advantage for whoever's issuing the threats. Has Trump's tweet given the United States some sort of advantage? I mean, other than giving Trump's kneejerk racist followers their first semi-erections in years at the thought of annihilating some "gooks?" Incidentally, it's worth noting that Trump voters will die just as painfully as Hillary voters if Kim decides to hit the U.S. mainland with an ICBM. Just an FYI for any Trump trolls here.
So, not only did Trump offer up another baseless threat, escalating tensions between the U.S. and the DPRK, but Ri decided to respond on Monday and it wasn't good news.
North Korea has threatened to shoot down US bombers in international airspace, claiming that, with a weekend tweet, Donald Trump had declared war.
The North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho said: “The whole world should clearly remember it was the US who first declared war on our country.” He referred in particular to Trump’s tweet on Sunday that warned that the regime’s leaders “won’t be around much longer”.
Well done, Biff. When or if an American bomber is shot down and personnel are killed, we should obviously blame the regime, but Trump should get partial credit for unnecessarily taunting Ri and Kim to pull the trigger -- and without any real strategic purpose behind the initial taunt.
There's something to be said for projecting toughness, especially if there's a three-dimensional chess strategy in progress. A good cop, bad cop gambit at the very least. But so far, all we can do is to take Trump's possibly dementia-induced tweets at face value -- as nothing more than a doddering old crank's ill-conceived attempts at intimidation.
One of the many things that Trump doesn't grasp about all of this is that there's a specific reason why leaders much wiser and smarter and more experienced than Trump haven't resorted to Twitter threats. Threats, especially infantile ones, don't work. Clearly no one, possibly including John Kelly who's supposed to be babysitting Trump, agrees that Trump is doing the right thing.
In a sane world, Trump's North Korea blurts would be enough to trigger impeachment or 25th Amendment discussions on the Hill. He's not a well man and his mental instability could lead to countless deaths in the first full-scale nuclear exchange in the history of the world.