Guest Editorial: No one should die due to an angry tweet
Knowing what you knew of candidate Donald Trump a year ago you might have imagined this nightmare headline:
“North Korea Says Trump’s Tweets Are a Declaration of War”
Well, your national nightmare is here.
That headline comes from Vanity Fair, but is one of hundreds just like it that raced around the internet earlier this week.
A president who doesn’t read, has no grasp of history, no knowledge of foreign affairs, no capacity for statesmanship, never served in the military and diligently evaded his own generation’s war, is practicing gunboat diplomacy in 140 characters.
In a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., President Trump shared harsh words for Kim Jong Un, calling the North Korean leader a "little Rocket Man."
On Saturday night, Trump tweeted, “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”
Before you cheer the bravado, as 133,000 Twitter readers did by clicking “like,” you should know that “Little Rocket Man,” who Trump so casually threatens to dispatch, commands the fourth-largest army in the world.
He may have the face of a cherub and eccentric hair, but Kim is a monster with hydrogen bombs. He is a nuclear threat in the Asia Pacific and is developing ICBMs that could one day target Los Angeles or Chicago. He is no one to toy with. This is not child’s play.
In his statement before the United Nations and in his tweets, Trump has explicitly said he would “utterly destroy” North Korea and implied he would kill that nation’s leadership. Those are provocative words that can lead to miscalculation in Pyongyang, writes longtime foreign policy hand Joseph M. DeThomas in the journal 38 North.
A Penn State professor who was a U.S. ambassador to Estonia and served for decades in the U.S. Foreign Service and the State Department, DeThomas writes, “(Trump) has cornered a vicious animal and told it he intends to kill it and its young. His announcement last week of far-reaching secondary economic sanctions designed to unilaterally impose a complete trade and financial embargo on North Korea is likely to pour gasoline on the fire he set in New York.” DeThomas reprised the famous quote of Sir Edward Grey on the eve of World War I. The British foreign secretary said of the darkness then descending on humanity, “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
How close are we to catastrophe?
If Kim Jong Un decides the Americans are going to invade, he may try to preempt us with a land invasion of South Korea. If that happens nearly 30,000 U.S. military personnel will be militarily engaged. The United States will be at war.
If history has taught us anything, it is that war is a descent into darkness that is thoroughly unpredictable.
Donald Trump’s impetuous and impulsive style is not suited for such high-stakes diplomacy. At this moment in time we are stuck with the commander in chief we elected, but we can only hope that more seasoned minds around him will hedge him in and stop his worst impulses.
No one should die, and no nation should go to war because of one foolish
Arizona Republic, Sept. 29