Donald Trump has no idea how to handle this

North Korea’s latest major threat — that it would deliver a “Christmas gift” to the US before the end of the year if sanctions against it are not lifted – has truly put the spotlight on Donald Trump’s weakness as a leader. Trump notably dismissed the severity of the North Korean threat: “Maybe it’s a nice present,” Trump joked when questioned by reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort. “Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test.”

In no uncertain terms, Trump has no idea what he’s doing. Any president worth his bronzer would take this threat very seriously. North Korea has everything to gain, and America everything to lose. Kim Jong-un, despite being a hateful dictator, has proven just rational enough to survive this long. He knows that were he to fire off a nuke to any nation, North Korea would be leveled. He knows that were he to hack the US in some capacity, the US would retaliate in greater measure with sanction power. So what is he to do? Some kind of superficial display of power.

North Korea has a history of doing this. Underground testing, firing ICBMs over Japan, the list goes on. This time, however, experts believe that it’s possible North Korea will attempt to detonate a nuke in the atmosphere. This is bad for a few reasons. Firstly, and easily the most alarming, is highlighted by the linked article from The National Interest: “Even the preparations for such a test, including the loading of a nuclear warhead onto a long-range missile, might well trigger a US pre-emptive strike. After all, how could a US president be confident that a nuclear-tipped ICBM was being launched only for testing purposes?”

In other words, Kim Jong-un’s ultimate display of strength – short of war – might indeed be sufficient to start a war, or at least level a country. Kim might not completely understand the extent to which such a test would risk nuclear war. So what does this have to do with Trump’s weakness? Trump, famously, doesn’t know how to be an executive. If there’s one thing Trump absolutely cannot do, it’s be an executive. One example: he told former Defense Secretary James Mattis to have Bashar al-Assad assassinated. Another example: he tried extorting Ukraine. In other words, Trump cannot be trusted to make good decisions.

Trump’s public bungling of Kim’s threat shows one thing clearly: he has no idea how to handle this. If everything turns out okay, it isn’t because of him. A leader doesn’t joke about threats; a leader acts with trepidation. Kim’s threat caught Trump with his pants down. He simply doesn’t know how to handle serious issues. For all his bravado and shit-kicking, he lacks substance about the one thing his supporters agree they like about him — his “toughness.”

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