Trump vs. Kim Jong Un: Two loose cannons, a monumental nightmare in the making

Trump and his generals better be very careful before deciding to launch a pre-emptive strike.

A picture of Kim Jong Un
Image credit: Zennie Abraham under Creative Commons license

The entire world is watching with a sense of foreboding as North Korea and the U.S. head toward a potentially catastrophic military confrontation. This is a time-bomb that could go off at any given time when Kim Jong Un, the slightly deranged leader of North Korea, squares off against Trump, the highly reactionary U.S. president.

These are leaders who may look totally different but are quite similar otherwise; both have quick tempers with short fuses, not the characteristics that one would want to be present in leaders of countries that possess very powerful military forces.

Millions of Americans, after having become aware of these latest incidents involving that part of the world, certainly must have a feeling of dread, thinking that this confrontation is not going to end well.

North Korea and its succession of unstable leaders have been developing a nuclear weapon for some time and are said to have as many as 20 that have been tested and are operational, with more in the development. However, they don’t yet have the needed missile delivery system.

North Korea has made continuing threats to use such a weapon against South Korea, Japan and even the U.S., proclaiming that they would not hesitate to launch a nuclear attack if provoked. Their leaders have been and continue to be in a deep state of paranoia.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence just concluded extremely different weekends. While Pence was in South Korea to discuss escalating tensions with North Korea he issued a threat to use military force against that rogue government if it “crossed the U.S. red line”. Trump, meanwhile, was hard at work hitting golf balls at his course at Mar-a-Lago – again.

I say again because, with this latest round of golf, it marked the 18th day that he was playing a round of golf since he took office just 12 weeks ago. Nothing like overdoing a good thing is there? Well, that may be troubling to some observers but to many others it’s a blessing when he stays away from Washington, since the more he plays golf the less time he will have to make more enemies for America and cause more controversies.

North Korea and its leaders are known to be extremely rigid, ultra-stubborn individuals who, quite apparently, have little to no capability to sit down with other parties to find ways to reach any form of common ground on any issue. They only communicate with China, the only country with which it has reasonably good relations.

Yes, this country is most certainly a great threat. But yet, as rigid and hostile as its leaders may be, somehow I get the idea that it would not be a complete impossibility to get them to back off from their constant threats and listen to reason. These are people that you cannot threaten or isolate or use sanctions against successfully but there just might be a way to reach them and bring the situation under control.

In this kind of highly volatile situation, what should an American president do? What in the world can this president do? That’s a dilemma, especially with someone like Trump who is a political and foreign affairs neophyte. But the best thing that he can do is to stop the saber rattling and at least try for once to use some rational thinking to keep things from escalating even further.

His problem is that he does not have the capability to deal with this or any other crisis in a rational way. More and more it appears that he has given the military pretty much free rein to take over U.S. foreign policy and use military power as it sees fit. That is evidenced by the recent missile attack on the Syrian government facility and the dropping over that monstrous “mother of all bombs’” in Afghanistan.

This situation between North Korea and the U.S. might lead to the “Mother of all confrontations.”

North Korea might be a relatively small country with a population of only about 25 million but it has very formidable military firepower. ranks its military strength at 25th out of 126 countries that have militaries. That’s shocking to hear when the general belief generally is that its leaders are all mouth with nothing to back their bluster. Check out this article that shows the huge military power it possesses.

With this knowledge of North Korea’s military strength, Trump and his generals better be very careful before deciding to launch a pre-emptive strike on that country because Kim Jong Un could swiftly retaliate against South Korea. It has a very large number of very sophisticated and powerful artillery pieces located on its borders which are aimed directly at Seoul and other strategic targets. Any attack on it would unleash a massive counter-attack.

Trump would be very wise to keep this critically important thought in mind. He better start thinking about establishing and maintaining a solid relationship with China because it is the only country that has a strong influence over North Korea. So how China uses that influence may well make the difference between maintaining a kind of détente situation between North Korea and the U.S. versus seeing the eruption of an all-out war, even a nuclear one.

The only way I can see to deal with this situation is to have someone from the U.S., certainly not Trump, to begin very intense discussions with China to come up with suitable strategies to prevent some kind of terrible confrontation. There must be something that this rogue government wants badly, something could bring them to the negotiating table, something that is currently not known; it’s time for negotiations to replace the threat of force.

I think that North Korea has never forgotten what happened in the Korean War when it and the U.S. waged a very intense war that ended in no one really winning; that may be one of the underlying reasons for its ongoing state of paranoia; something they cannot forget as it watches this U.S. government’s highly aggressive foreign policy continue unabated.

A major problem is that Trump, who has little to no patience in dealing with difficult situations, may not wait for China to intervene. He acted unilaterally when he upped the ante and ordered that naval armada into the Korean peninsula. He went even further when he stated that if China doesn’t intervene and help to bring this volatile situation under control that “he would take care of it himself.”

Speaking of that U.S. naval armada that Trump said on April 12 was on its way into the Korean peninsula, we are now hearing that at the time he said that this carrier group was heading there, it not only was 3500 miles away but it was heading in the opposite direction. Does this pseudo-president know anything, doesn’t the military, once in a while, interrupt his golf game and let him know what exactly is going on?

Here’s the greatest danger of all; his declaration indicating that he would take care of the situation himself. That should strike fear into the hearts of every person on this planet.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.