When President Trump threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea in response to their nuclear developments, I was intrigued.
Presidents choose their words carefully. A threat like that no doubt involved an assessment of plans, input from military and state department officials, and consideration of intelligence on North Korean motives and capabilities. There must be a purpose for that wording, and I was trying to figure out what that purpose might be.
Fire and fury sounds nuclear, but isn’t explicitly nuclear. North Korea responded by saying that they’d use nuclear weapons if attacked by the US. Coming on the heels of sanctions, this seemed a calculated move to increase pressure on Kim Jung-Un, North Korea’s rather secretive and at times bizarre President.
Now we find out that President Trump’s threat was improvised, and came as a surprise to his aides. It did not involve a well developed strategy, nor was it a part of some kind of calculated escalation.
Excuse my language but, what the fuck? Donald Trump is President of the US, when he says something like that – threatening “fire and fury,” it’s serious. It’s not just a slogan for reality TV, or an effort to appear tough. This is the real world.
But no. He just wanted to sound tough. He probably liked the “fire and fury” sound, sort of like ‘shock and awe.’ But as wrong headed as the 2003 Iraq war might have been, it was thoroughly planned and had a rationale that had been debated and analyzed in the White House, Pentagon and State Department.
To have an undisciplined President is downright dangerous. To be sure, the rest of the world is learning not to take him too seriously. A classic example is Trump’s decision to pull out of the trans-Pacific partnership. He promised bilateral deals better for the US. The reality is that the rest of the world is making deals without us, and this has caused severe consequences to agriculture in the US – hurting states that voted for Trump.
On issues of defense and foreign policy, this weakens the US. With a President that is seen as weak and impulsive, countries work together to contain the damage he can do, ignoring his demands and taunts. The stunningly incompetent way he discussed issues with the Mexican President and Australian Prime Minister – conversations published in the Washington Post – undermine his office and authority.
So in a worst case scenario, Trump’s undisciplined impulsiveness could lead to an unneeded and costly war, perhaps doing existential damage to the US. In a best case scenario Trump gets ignored and the US declines in world clout and prestige.
The good news? We live in a democracy, and democracies have self-correcting mechanisms. Moreover, Republicans and Independents are waking up to the fact that their President is a disaster. Republicans are not going to let their party be damaged by an incompetent buffoon much longer. Meanwhile, progressives have more energy and drive than anytime in recent years – and Democrats are using Trump’s buffoonery to recruit top notch candidates for 2018.
And the rest of us? Really, maybe we should just watch baseball or read books. Year Zero by Rob Reid is an awesome sci-fi comedy in the same vein as ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide,’ but mocking the music industry and, well everything. It’ll take your mind off Trump! And Brian Dozier hit a grand slam last night.