Every national security professional has managed to be more level-headed than the president when it comes to dealing with the North Korea situation.
The situation with North Korea is rapidly escalating. They can now reach U.S. soil with up to 60 nuclear warheads, have the capability to reach major U.S. cities, and president Kim Jong-un has threatened to launch one of his missiles at the territory of Guam.
While war is not inevitable, it is still important to treat this sort of threatening situation with extreme caution and to choose both words and actions carefully. Trump’s response, as predicted, used the exact opposite of that logic, opting for brute strength over strategic and careful planning.
He said that the United States would respond to North Korea with “fire and fury”. He tweeted that his first priority as president was to “renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal”.
My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
Donald Trump is making a show of strength, and it is easy to see how many people would want to get behind that; the United States has been praised as the strongest nation in the world. However, he is turning a real threat of nuclear war into a fight in the courtyard between himself and Kim Jong-un, and with such big egos on both sides, it is hard to know anything about the outcome than that a lot of people would be in harm’s way.
What’s Happening Now:
While the President shouts threats from the relative security of his phone screen, current and previous White House officials are taking a calmer, more appropriate approach to the situation at hand.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered lines that would have sounded more assuring from a president’s mouth.
“I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” Mr. Tillerson said, “Nothing I have seen and nothing I know of would indicate that situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”
While Trump and his team would have you believe the rhetoric the Secretary was referring to was that of the media doing its job and covering its story, he may very well be directing that aside to the president himself, who has been shouting excitedly about this development and the chance to show off his makeshift bravery.
Another person who has stepped up to calm American fears is James Clapper, who served under both the Busch and Obama administrations and held the Director of National Intelligence role under Obama.
Clapper agreed with Tillerson that the U.S. will not and should not seek a regime change in North Korea, and said that there needs to be a rhetoric shift from the White House.
He called out Trump by suggesting that part of the problem is “discordant, inconsistent voices” when addressing the issue, drawing a contrast between Trump’s constant threats against the country and Tillerson’s more composed demeanor.
The fact that outsiders need to be reminding the White House that a unified front is going to help Americans accept what they’re being told is ridiculous. When handling a major military situation that could escalate to a crisis, the president has a duty to the American people to make sure everything is transparent as possible and that they can remain secure in the actions of the leadership of this country.
Since the White House can’t even agree on a tone to take for the issue, how can anyone be confident the major leaders within it will agree on the appropriate actions to keep Americans safe?
It again brings up the issue of Trump’s ego and the efforts of everyone around him to suppress it. His need to be the strongest, the bravest, the “best” could put millions in peril.
Trump is out to make a name for himself as a president, however he can, and he already demonstrated on the campaign trail that he has little understanding of the devastation nuclear war can bring. While it is important not to panic, don’t relax too much that you forget to pay attention.