In response to North Korea's latest provocation, Donald Trump alienated our ally South Korea, floated a war that would kill millions, and proposed a trade policy that would collapse the global economy — on a supposed National Day of Prayer.
Donald Trump's initial response to the news that North Korea may have tested a hydrogen bomb was to float the possibility of armed conflict and/or a trade policy that would kill millions of American jobs and ravage the global economy.
North Korea made the claim that it had tested the weapon along with antagonistic comments about its immediate neighbor, South Korea, as well as the United States.
Right out of the gate, and in all too predictable fashion, Trump fumbled his response.
He accused South Korea of engaging in "appeasement," using the dangerous escalation as — once again — an opportunity to promote himself, rather than bolster an ally and work towards a solution.
In response, the office representing South Korean president Moon Jae-in released a statement rebutting Trump, noting that their government was not appeasing North Korea and supports "maximum sanctions."
Leaving St. John's church in Washington, D.C., as part of a National Day of Prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, Trump was asked by reporters if the U.S. plans to attack North Korea after the missile test. He answered, "We'll see." The troublingly vague phrase has been a staple of Trump's responses on a host of issues, often when it appears he doesn't know what answer to give in public.
But in the case of military conflict with North Korea, millions could die. It isn't a situation that should be addressed with a dismissive response, especially from Trump, who currently commands the only superpower in the world, with the most powerful military.
Not content to bash allies and treat global war like an annoying insect, Trump also floated a proposal that would devastate the global economy: "The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea."
80 percent of North Korea's foreign trade is with China, which is why the U.S. has used them as a go-between with that nation's hostile government. But even more critically, China is our nation's biggest trading partner. Trade with China was $648.2 billion in 2016; to cut that off would absolutely destroy millions of jobs from coast to coast.
If Trump were to go through severing trade ties with China, it would devastate not only the American economy, but in a ripple effect, the entire global economy that relies on America.
The wrongheaded idea — certain to be opposed by businesses who do billions of dollars in trade with China — would also hurt Trump himself. Many of his products that he sells at his hotel and resort properties are made in China, as are the fashions sold to mass market retailers by his daughter/presidential adviser Ivanka Trump.
Either Trump did not know America is so closely tied to China — unlikely, because he has often invoked Chinese trade as an economic boogeyman — or he has intentionally proposed a course of action that would be historically destructive, economically.
And Trump's legacy of rhetoric regarding North Korea in the short time that he has been in office has already prompted major failure.
At a recent rally in Phoenix, Trump speculated that North Korea's Kim Jong-un was "starting to respect us" after Trump threatened "fire and fury" after missile tests. But by racheting up nuclear tests, Jong-un is making it clear that Trump rhetoric is not a deterrent.
Security expert Malcolm Nance explained on MSNBC that "Donald Trump is the perfect foil for North Korea," pointing out that Trump's saber-rattling has "allowed them to use Donald Trump's statements as stepping stones" to build up their weapon arsenal.
NANCE: I'd challenge everyone to actually play that clip back, and imagine Kim Jong-un making every one of those statements. They play in both directions.
Donald Trump is the perfect foil for North Korea. North Korea accelerates its atomic weapons program every time that there's a provocation in the United – as they view it, coming from the United States. This has allowed them to use Donald Trump's statements as stepping stones for their strategic arsenal's advance.
Now they have dominated a thermonuclear bomb, a hydrogen bomb, which is ten times more powerful than anything that they had done before, and they actually publicly displayed weaponized models and warhead nosecones of these devices. North Korea is now on the international stage as a nuclear power, and they know anything shy of negotiation or China pressuring them, they can ignore Donald Trump at this point, and now the game is – the ball's in their court, and I think they're going to keep the ball.
Trump's rhetoric having put "the ball" in North Korea's court has given that adversarial country the upper hand, and there is no sign Trump will change tactics, keeping North Korea in charge.
The warning signs were present during the campaign that Trump would not be able to handle high pressure situations with millions of lives on the line. His rash and reckless actions are proving that those worries were right.