“Dotard versus Rocket Man” — the century’s first instance of comic-book diplomacy — might be funny if only the real-life issue at hand wasn’t a matter of life and death for millions.
But the sight and sound of tyrants such as Kim Jong Un waving around their missiles and nukes must be taken seriously.
“A frightened dog barks louder,” the ever-bombastic North Korean said in response to President Donald Trump’s dire UN threat of North Korean destruction should Kim keep going the wrong way.
“I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”
So we get more of this Doctor Evil stuff from a ruler testing H-bombs.
The practical question is whether the American president’s tit-for-tat engagement of Kim’s warnings and counter-warnings helps the situation, exacerbates it or has little effect on what the enemy does.
Beyond whatever relevant information we don’t have, the argument in favor of Trump’s verbal tactics would be that it focuses attention on the matter.
Maybe it helps punctuate the material impact of stronger sanctions against North Korea in tandem with China and Russia.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dedicated his whole speech at last week’s annual United Nations General Assembly to the Kim regime, which launched ballistic missiles over Japan in recent weeks.
Abe firmly backed the U.S. stance that “all options are on the table” — and endorsed the Trump administration’s stance that talks with Pyongyang have failed for 20 years.
The situation, he said, calls for “not dialogue, but pressure,” The Associated Press quoted him as saying.
One expert, Matthew Kroenig, was quoted by the Vox website saying that the president’s comments “reinforced the deterrence message.”
Just maybe, Trump’s sneering bloviations are appropriate in this case even if they’re considered counterproductive in other situations, such as in Congress.
Six weeks ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called criticism of Trump’s rhetoric “ridiculous.”
“They act as if North Korea would act different if he used nicer words,” said the man Trump needled as “Little Marco.”
Others, of course, disagree that this is a plus.
Russian foreign policy players said Trump’s UN statements echoed his inexperience and were potentially dangerous for U.S. allies, The Washington Post reported.
“Any military conflict means deaths of civilians. It is especially odd as the U.S. considers South Korea and Japan its allies and they could be affected in case of a strike,” said Andrei Klimov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday: “If I were giving the president advice, I would have said, ‘Avoid using ‘Rocket Man.’ ”
“We know the leader of North Korea is erratic, to put it kindly. That kind of language is risky.”
Or perhaps it would make no practical difference to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions whether the words are venomous or mellow. Now, “Rocket Man” is a relevant caricature, while dictionary definitions of “dotard” have been trending.