Tuesday, November 14, 2017

North Korea Is No Laughing Matter

Sohrab Ahmari, commentarymagazine.com [Original article contains links.]

The South Park Presidency.

image from
Twitter’s new, 280-character format hasn’t been a boon to presidential dignity. On Saturday, while traveling in Vietnam ahead of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Donald Trump decided to chaff North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, on the social-media platform. “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,'” the president tweeted, “when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” ...

Kim’s regime also poses an existential threat to America’s closest allies in East Asia and, given its recent advances in missile technology, a potentially catastrophic nuclear threat to the U.S. homeland. Yet, as a matter of public diplomacy, Trump’s chaffing risks reducing this threat into a silly feud between characters out of a South Park cartoon or a Judd Apatow movie. The day may soon come when the Trump administration needs to win the support of friends and rivals in the region, as well as the American people, for military action to contain or neutralize the Pyongyang regime. Kidding around with Kim risks undermining American seriousness.

But the president’s chaotic communications strategy, his conservative defenders will argue, is ordered to our chaotic, high-tech, postmodern world. Look how far it has brought him already, from reality-TV charlatanry all the way to the Oval Office. Perhaps they are right. Then again, conservatives used to hold that no amount of technological change would alter the fundamentals–of human nature, of leadership, of the life of nations in war and peace. Now that core insight has fallen out of fashion among the Trumpian right. They better hope that the nation won’t pay too high a price for the loss.

No comments: