by MANI THANGADURAI
Just when we thought President Donald Trump’s “itchy twitter finger” couldn’t cause any more problems, we are now in the midst of a potentially serious one.
Since January, we have seen the former real estate magnate use his much-followed personal Twitter account to jot down some utterly bizarre tweets on a myriad of political issues, on each and every occasion displaying the grace and serenity of a raging bull in a China shop. Ever since ascending to the presidency of the United States, Trump has sought to live up to the promises he made during his campaign trail with the aim of putting “America First” and “Making America Great Again.”
The problem is that most of his foreign policy issues and rhetoric have lacked any sort of flexibility and reasoning, and have been nothing but attempts to pander to his voting base while also trying to discredit former president Barack Obama. While supporters of Trump are only too happy to claim that a “tough guy” approach is needed, he has clearly crossed the line between toughness and churlish masochism through his words and tweets. Not just once, but many times. It has come to the fore once again, with the North Korean Foreign Ministry accusing Trump of effectively declaring war on North Korea through a tweet in which he said that the leadership “won’t be around much longer.” While his supporters are only too happy to claim that the tweet was misconstrued, it was sadly in line with his consistent rhetoric on the issue.
One is all too clearly reminded of Trump’s outrageous speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19. He used the forum of an organization for which he has displayed nothing but contempt to deliver a belligerent rant which had members of his own delegation shaking their heads. It was at this event that he made the threat of “totally destroying North Korea,” and lashed out at the Iran nuclear deal which played a role in Iran’s nuclear disarmament. He also managed to stick to his anti-globalist ideals which he trumped up during his campaign.
Now, no one doubts Kim Jong-Un’s potential to become a nuclear tyrant, and no one has forgotten his path to leadership. North Korea has for many years suffered under the thumb of an insidious dictatorship to the detriment of its own people. Dissent has been violently quashed and its citizens have not been granted basic human rights, while living in conditions which are anything but prosperous. With Kim all too happy to expand his country’s nuclear capabilities, there is no doubt he represents a burgeoning danger to global harmony. Certainly the response by North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has been nothing but irresponsible, with a threat to shoot down any and all U.S. Aircraft flying even in international airspace.
However, in trying to emulate the late Ronald Reagan, Trump has done absolutely nothing but confirm his reputation as a man who lacks the patience or the tact to deal with issues of foreign policy. As much as he would like to think that his main aim is to put “America First,” the president of the United States has always had a responsibility to lend a calm and sane (yet firm) voice on global issues, while proceeding with caution in dealing with certain people.
For all his criticism of Obama’s supposedly weak foreign policy during his second four-year term, Trump has had his own messy failures, most notably a failed raid in Libya which resulted in the death of an 8-year-old US citizen and a Navy Seal. For a man whose admirers refer to him as the Great Negotiator, Trump clearly has a lot to learn about how to negotiate on a global scale. Using his Twitter account to put forth some inane and incoherent ramblings only confirms that he is only too willing to eschew maturity in favor of masochism. Unless he heeds the advice of former Vice President Joe Biden and starts to grow up, there is no doubt in my mind that the world could be set for a dangerous event of cataclysmic proportions.
Mr. Trump, your country needs you to lead with tact, not with tweets.
Mani Thangadurai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org