By Katie Bedard
Elm Staff Writer
On Sept. 25, North Korean foreign minister Ri Young-ho announced that President Donald Trump’s recent Twitter statements have been interpreted as an act of war.
Such statements include Trump writing, “They won’t be around much longer!” and, “We will have no choice but to totally destroy #NoKo.” While the White House has rejected this idea that the U.S. has declared war, Trump has not backed down, reaffirming to the public that he is more than willing to use “devastating” military action.
While this is certainly not the first time that Trump has Tweeted impulsive and even offensive statements, the reaction by North Korea shows the far-reaching consequences of this type of rhetoric. It should be the goal of world leaders and international organizations to promote peace. In times of increasing tension, politicians must choose their words carefully in order to not escalate the situation.
One of the main objectives of the United Nations is to prevent North Korea from pursuing and creating nuclear weapons. The president’s brash words are not doing anything to help those efforts.
“It’s strengthened, I think, Kim Jong-un’s assertion to his own people that he was right,” said former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens in an interview with PBS. “He was right to pursue nuclear weapons, and he’s not going to stop.”
While nuclear warfare has not yet happened, that doesn’t mean that Trump’s Tweets will have no effect on the future.
“Words alone are not likely to trigger a nuclear exchange, but they can surely lead to further escalation,” said Or Rabinowitz, author of “Bargaining on Nuclear Tests,” in an article by the Washington Post.
Currently, under the assumption that war has been declared, North Korea believes that it has the right to take measures to protect itself. This includes being able to shoot down U.S. bombers at any time, even when these planes are not within the country’s air space.
“Veterans of diplomacy, national security, and specialists on North Korea fear that . . . Trump’s increasingly bellicose threats and public insults of the famously thin-skinned Mr. Kim could cause the U.S. to careen into a nuclear confrontation driven by the personal animosity and bravado,” said New York Times writer Julie Hirschfeld Davis.
What’s most disheartening about these statements is the effect they will have going forward for those who would actually suffer from a war with North Korea. Those who stand to lose the most include the North Korean people; nations such as South Korea and Japan, due to their relations and proximity; and the American people, in the event that a North Korean warhead could reach the shores of the U.S. The irrational behavior shown by Trump won’t punish him directly; it will punish many innocent people caught in the crossfire.
One of the most important features of a leader is their ability to put people first to show empathy. Threatening North Korea in the way that he has shows a lack of care and understanding in a complicated situation, which could easily have disastrous results. The president blindly putting the US and the world in danger due to his inability to think before he Tweets is the opposite of the mark of a great leader. If the White House wants to try to neutralize the situation between the U.S. and North Korea, then they must consider the option that President Trump should not be in full control of his social media accounts. It is neither appropriate nor safe for the president to use a public platform to vent about another world leader in such a casual and thoughtless manner. The position of commander-in-chief is nothing like being a reality TV star, and the statements he puts out for the world to see will do more than just offend someone.