Header photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense
I can’t decide if Twitter jokes about nuclear war makes me want to laugh or cry, and really that’s the best description I can think of for Twitter – and the internet world in general.
So I’m coming off working my first freelance job, and it was very exciting but a little draining for someone who, until now, has considered wearing pants with zippers to be the greatest triumph of any given day. So I almost considered skipping this, because I knew it would have to be about the whole Trump-North Korea thing and I just wasn’t ready to put on my journalist hat. But then I realized, infusing humor and drama into politics is what I do best. So I’m going to give you a Casual Cool Hip Take on the Trump-North Korea dramz.
Firstly, the video. In a meeting on Tuesday, President Donald Trump “improvised,” – according to reporting done by the New York Times – his comments on North Korea. In the video, you see him staring at a piece of paper but that document was about the opioid crisis, not North Korea.
He declared that he would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if they delivered any more threats (North Korea has openly threatened a nuclear attack), a statement that reminded people uncomfortably of President Harry Truman’s speech announcing that he had dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Trump’s comments were in reaction to a Washington Post article that reported Pyongyang (the capital of North Korea) had created nuclear warheads that were small enough to be placed on ballistic missiles. And in the larger picture, this summer North Korea has been occasionally firing off missile tests that put the rest of the world on edge.
There are a few reasons that this video is striking.
One is that Donald Trump has, like, strangely elegant cheekbones. Re-watch the video and tell me that those cheekbones aren’t surprisingly nice. They’re very high. I think I was most surprised by this revelation because I try not to watch videos of Trump, because he makes me so annoyed, and all the photos used by the media are very unflattering (something they do on purpose). Trump apparently hates this, which honestly I understand because I hate when people upload unapproved photos of me, and my cheekbones aren’t even as nice as his. I don’t hate my cheekbones, but they’re nothing to write home about.
Two is that Trump’s remarks come pretty soon after the United Nations’ Security Council passed unanimous sanctions against North Korea for their missile testing. The sanctions, which would cut $1 billion off North Korea’s annual foreign revenue, needs UN members Russia and China to hold up their end of the bargain. The hope was that if those sanctions stayed strong, particularly on the part of China, that de-escalating the situation could be possible. North Korea’s threat of pre-emptive nuclear missiles stemmed from their assertions that U.S. military exercises with South Korea threatened their safety.
But, in a similar way to Trump’s tweeting of the transgender ban, he often uses public statements (whether via Twitter or television) to force people into action. His transgender ban comment was made (allegedly) after days of lawyers arguing with Trump against the action. Trump tweeted out his ban to force his lawyers to stop arguing and go along with him. Trump’s comments on North Korea force China to go along with his desire to clamp down on North Korea as well as inspire North Korea to de-escalate (and eventually stop) their nuclear plans. It also forced his staff to scramble in creating (sometimes oppositional and back-pedaling) statements.
In response to Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” North Korea said they were considering a nuclear bomb on the U.S. territory of Guam, a key military base. In a statement, the governor of Guam said that an attack on the island would be an attack on America.
And today, Aug. 10, Trump doubled down on his comments and suggested that maybe “fire and fury” wasn’t tough enough. While in a press conference at his golf club (he’s on a 17-day “working vacation”), Trump said that his comment might not have gone far enough. This led to an unintentionally hilarious line in a New York Times article:
Asked what would be tougher than fire and fury, Mr. Trump said, “Well, you’ll see, you’ll see.”
Which leads me to the third striking realization of the video. Up until this point, Trump has largely existed to ruin the lives of Americans domestically. With the transgender ban, and the threats to Jeff Sessions, or Mitch McConnell, or his threats to force ObamaCare into imploding, Trump has exhibited his complete lack of understanding how politics works. Unlike his life in the private sector, Trump cannot bully and bluster his way.
But this is his stupidity and his ignorance creating an international scandal and threat. North Korea isn’t some unruly employee – you can’t just threaten them. Trump’s actions and threats (and North Korea’s response) shows exactly what happens when two insecure, inexperienced bullies are given unparalleled power and platforms. You have Kim Jong Un and Trump, both nursing their own fragile egos, making threats and aggressions that, realistically, will never affect them personally. They will, however, have a distinct and calculated impact on real people – like the people of Guam, or American military (the same military that Trump alienated a few weeks ago with his banning of transgender people).
And as much as Trump supporters crowed about how his lack of a career in politics would prove to be a boon, this is why people make a career in politics. And this is why we need career politicians. Because they’re trained to do this, and they’ve dedicated their lives to it. If you don’t want an electrician giving you a root canal, why would you send someone to do a job they’re not qualified for that they have no experience in?
Trump’s ego and brashness and impulsiveness has caused real damage domestically, and now we’re seeing the result of having someone like that on the global stage. And it looks a lot like an electrician giving a root canal.