Recently I wrote an article on this blog entitled, “Don’t Play Chicken with a Mad Man” which warned about the danger of Donald Trump provoking the unstable leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, into a reaction which would drag us into a war on the Korean peninsula. Since then I have witnessed the ratcheting up of tension between the two countries.
Former American Presidents through many administrations have reacted to North Korean provocation by with rational approaches. They never insinuated that they would attack North Korea; quite the opposite they always called for called for calm, ratcheting down the verbal exchange with the North Korean leader. All the while they usually increased our military presence in the region to send a silent message that we were prepared to react with our superior military should that become necessary .
Since Donald Trump knows little of history, he is instead tweeting veiled threats and having his minions ominously add that “all options are on the table”. Now frankly I don’t believe that these threats are aimed at at Kim Jong-un, but instead are directed at Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders essentially saying that if you don’t take care of North Korea we will. This is all part of Trump’s “tough guy” negotiating style. But Kim Jong-un is paranoid and fearful that if he isn’t seen as “tough” by the North Korean generals, his power and even his life is jeopardy. So he is taking the treats personally. In response he feels he has to make ever more provocative statements. The lesson here is that a cornered wild animal is very dangerous.
So now Kim is talking about a nuclear war and sinking the aircraft carrier that Trump has at long last got moving in the right direction. Everyone knows that North Korea doesn’t have the military means to sink one of our aircraft carriers or go toe to toe with the US with nuclear weapons. However, it would be dangerous for Trump to call his bluff. North Korea does have a very large, assumingly well trained military with the conventional weapons necessary to kill millions of South Koreans and Japanese civilians along with tens of thousands of our military personal stationed in those two countries.
Trump needs to learn to “walk softly but carry a big stick”.