Perhaps it takes a madman to stop a madman.
Cautious diplomatic warnings and benign neglect have done nothing to deter North Korea’s maniacal dictator Kim Jong-un. And China, the one country whose pressure might deter North Korea from its nuclear ambitions, is inconsistent in its commitment.
So now President Donald Trump is trading blustery threats with Kim Jong-un, telling the boy potentate he risks drawing “fire and fury” down on his country if he continues to play with his nuclear erector set.
The North Koreans issued a pretty scary threat of their own, offering a detailed plan for the attack of the Pacific U.S. island of Guam.
So Trump, in perfect schoolyard fashion, doubled down.
“Frankly, the people who are questioning that statement, was it too tough? Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,” the president said Thursday.
“If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody that we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous,” Trump said.
“Things will happen to them like they never thought possible.”
It’s possible that Trump will prevail in the belly-bumping, and Kim Jong-un will stand down out of fear of what his unpredictable American rival might do.
Or this reckless rhetoric could get a lot of people killed.
Trump is right that trying to coddle the North Koreans in hopes of making them behave, as past presidents have done, hasn’t worked. But I don’t think trying to out macho Kim Jong-un will either.
I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I thought that behind the trash talk, our country’s military and diplomatic experts were quietly at work preparing a plan that would put an end to North Korea as a viable threat to the U.S.