Leader comment: Trump's defiance is verging on warmongering

In analysis of the escalating situation between the United States and North Korea, one observation stands out for its terrifying simplicity. Donald Trump, it is said, has underestimated the complexity of the problem.

Donald Trump has threatened North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".
Donald Trump has threatened North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".

The average person in the street could hazard a guess that this is a delicate situation and there are no obvious answers guaranteed to succeed. When the leader of a world power can’t grasp the possibility that international relations are rarely black and white matters, we have an even bigger problem than should be necessary.

Trump appears to believe that no-one has previously thought of taking
an aggressive and threatening approach to North Korea, and all that has been needed is an individual like himself to take charge.

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Of course, many of his supporters will back him to the hilt, and are eager for enemies of their country to be put in their place.

What is neglected in this call to arms is recognition that North Korea is entirely unpredictable. A regime where the leader can extinguish members of his own family is one that is capable of responding without caution or calculation.

Trump has pledged “fire and fury like the world has never seen”. This, his stock-in-trade bombast, fails to consider that although the world has never seen such a scenario, that is because ways have usually been found to avoid global catastrophe. The world does not want to see Armageddon; not many of us will be impressed by it.

To date, we have rarely had to worry about the threat of nuclear war. No-one would suggest that the United States has always followed stable foreign and geopolitical policy, but a thread of common sense has existed even when mistakes have been made. That risks being lost if Trump continues to flaunt the nuclear button.

Conflict should always be the very last resort, whether that be with armed forces, conventional weapon or nuclear arsenals. Instead, Trump is reaching straight for the biggest threat he has access to.

The danger for the United States, as well as Japan, China, South Korea and frankly the rest of the world, is that Trump’s idea of defiance translates in Pyongyang as deliberate provocation.

There is a big difference between demonstrating strength and defiance, and acting like a war-monger. The current stand-off doesn’t have to end badly, but it might. That is not a risk worth taking.