Mad men

And nuclear bombs

 

It would be nothing more than a childish shouting match if Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un weren’t volatile heads of states capable of unleashing nuclear fury. Usually, with anybody else in the White House, occasional bouts of N Korea-specific tension are periodic headaches, nothing more. Threats coming from Pyongyang, as analysts put it, are ‘always the second half of a sentence’. Yet Trump’s response is already on a marked tangent from his predecessors. That can be said about most of US foreign policy, of course, but with the North Korean problem comes the prospect, a very real one, of a nuclear exchange. That is why everybody is worried.

This departure from usual state department policy has suddenly raised the stakes for everybody. Trump doesn’t seem to buy, for some reason, the logic that Kim might be a brute, but he’s no madman. The nuclear card is the only real deterrence against a real US-backed invasion – which Pyongyang has factored in surely as the sun will rise in the morning. However much it raises the threat level, Kim Jong will not fire first. American counter threats, on the other hand, have raised the temperature already to unprecedented levels. The loss of Chinese influence – reminiscent of the old days when Beijing’s leverage with Pyongyang made Washington look the other way as they manipulated the yuan – is also America’s doing.

Increasingly, the American president is putting himself in an unjustifiable position. If he tones down his aggression he’ll look weak. If he doesn’t he’ll have to pick the fight. There’s a reason the international press is no longer looking at the N Korean leader as the madman in this feud. Hopefully the White House will exhibit the maturity expected of it and deescalate this tension quickly.

 

 

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