Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America, has chosen to ramp up the rhetoric in the past few days, suggesting the United States will unleash “fire and fury” never seen before, having apparently upgraded their nuclear arsenal in the 7 months since he took office (wow, that was fast…) and claiming the American nuclear capability was “far stronger and more powerful than ever before.”
Surely this is just sabre-rattling, Trump talking tough in terms Kim Jong-un will appreciate and understand? US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to think so. He suggests there is no imminent threat from the North Koreans, and that Trump was merely making clear the Americans’ capability to defend itself and its allies should the need arise.
I’m not so sure. There can be little doubt about Trump’s narcissistic tendencies, and he spent most of his presidency so far tweeting and making speeches to back this up. His obsession with his popularity and his election victory, as well as his continued bashing of mainstream media are cases in point.
Far from getting on with the job of draining the Washington swamp, repealing Obamacare or building the southern border wall to stop the “bad hombres” getting in from Mexico (all key election promises), he has managed to assemble the wealthiest cabinet in US history, spectacularly failed to find any cross-party consensus on healthcare, and practically begged the Mexican president not to say he won’t pay for the wall after all.
“If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press.”
And all he has succeeded in doing is ramping up tensions with an unstable leader with probable nuclear capability and winding up the equally dangerous Russian president at every opportunity.
No Way Out
He is painting himself into a corner from which there is only one way out. Trump’s bluster has put him (and the United States) into a very difficult position – all this tough talk means there is little room for manoeuvre if push comes to shove. How can he be taken seriously if he backs down on the threats he has made? In short, he can’t, and for a narcissist like Trump, it would be unthinkable. The loss of face would be too much to bear, and would be something he is unwilling to countenance.
While little is known about Kim Jong-un, all the signs point to him and Trump being cut from the same cloth. Kim’s sabre-rattling and emotive rhetoric coming out of the North Korean state broadcaster leaves him just as little room to back down. In North Korea as in the US, the lunatics have well and truly taken over their asylums. The difference is, in America, there are mechanisms for those with more sanity and reason to regain control.
Let’s hope they do something before it’s too late.