Immediate criticism came pouring in from all sides as Donald Trump spouted off on Twitter with impetuous antagonism toward North Korea's Kim Jong Un.
One week ago, Donald Trump took to Twitter to make it clear that he has no respect for or interest in diplomacy when it comes to dealing with the volatile North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un.
His statement that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should stop “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with North Korea was met with harsh criticism from many voices. Intelligence expert Malcolm Nance called it tantamount to a threat of nuclear war,” while a former Pentagon spokesman suggested Trump ought to try picking up the phone rather than tweeting.
And Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration, chillingly noted that, had President John F. Kennedy behaved in a similar way during the Cuban Missile Crisis, “we would all be dead.”
Did Trump heed these words and warnings, from people with far more experience and knowledge on the subject?
Quite the opposite: he took it even further.
The disturbing tweets come on the heels of his bizarre comment in front of reporters during a dinner for military commanders and their spouses that perhaps the moment represented the “calm before the storm” — a comment he refused to explain.
But even with Trump’s childishly coy attitude, it is clear to many observers what he may be trying to do.
As VoteVets noted in response to the tweets, it is difficult to read them as anything other than an attempt to goad North Korea into acts of war to which the United States would have to respond militarily.
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California asked if that “one thing” would be Trump’s resignation, but also noted seriously that the generals around Trump have surely told him “there are zero good military options against N Korea.”
Global politics and authoritarianism expert Brian Klaas stated in no uncertain terms that Trump is “threatening nuclear war via Twitter,” which is “not normal, not okay, not tolerable.”
And Painter wondered if Trump and his “hedge fund buddies” had another gamble in mind, aimed at Asian stocks, with the threat.
On CNN, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington made it very clear how troubling and foolhardy Trump’s behavior on Twitter is.
“These are war tweets,” she warned, which are “undermining all of his negotiators who are trying to find other ways, I believe, to address the situation in North Korea.”
“It’s terrifying the country,” she added. “[Americans] certainly don’t want us to be the bullies in the schoolyard, taunting North Korea to go to war with us.”
And referencing Trump’s comment from the day before about the “calm before the storm,” Jayapal said what so many others must have felt, as well.
“My heart was chilled, because I do believe this president has been itching to go to war.”
Trump seems to think that bluster on Twitter makes him look strong, but instead, his reckless and thoughtless behavior only serves to make him look even more unfit and unqualified for office.
But if his aim with these tweets was not to puff up his own image, but rather to provoke the ire of Kim Jong Un and give Trump a plausible entry into war with North Korea, then the entire country — indeed, the entire world — may pay the price for his desire to treat the office of the presidency like a reality TV show.