Trump has promised “fire and fury like the world has never seen” in a threat directed at the isolated totalitarian government of North Korea. In response, Pyongyang announced that its autocratic ruler Kim Jong-un was mulling a plan to strike the US territory of Guam.
For years, bluster has emanated from North Korea, with escalations of missile tests and other military provocations putting countries in the region on edge. What makes this situation different is that the grandiose bluster is also being generated by President Trump, a wildly incompetent TV personality who may suffer from pathological narcissism.
Oh, and he also has control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Hillary Clinton once mused about Trump’s unfitness to hold such power:
"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons." —Hillary
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 29, 2016
Trump firing off improvised tweets discussing “fire and fury” should alarm any sensible person. He’s adding fuel to the fire, and increasing the level of confusion. This could shake the status quo and accidentally lead the two countries toward war. To make things worse, his pathetic administration – which is hamstrung by internal disputes and vacancies – hasn’t even appointed an ambassador to South Korea, the country that perhaps stands to lose the most from an armed conflict. Its capital, Seoul, is well-within striking distance of North Korea’s formidable artillery.
While Trump – ever desperate for a way out of his rapidly declining approval numbers – could theoretically start a war, it isn’t likely. Not now at least.
North Korea’s posturing is a strategy. Take the words Pusan National University Associate Professor Robert Kelly:
The North Koreans are not going to offensively strike an American base or the American homeland unilaterally without any provocation – to do that would bring crushing American retaliation. The North Koreans aren’t stupid.
In other words, North Korea won’t initiate a full-scale war because – no matter the damage it wrought on Japan, South Korea, and the United States – it would most likely be eradicated.
Kim Jong-un and his kleptocrat subordinates enjoy their luxary, and don’t want to see it wiped off the face of the earth.
Nonetheless, Trump’s unpredictability and stunning ignorance of global affairs are causes for concern. In all honesty, international crises like this only remind us of the urgency to rid the White House of his toxic presence.