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Trump vs. Kim: Big Egos, Bigger Dangers

Trump vs. Kim: Big Egos, Bigger Dangers
Our final topic is “Trump vs. Kim: Big Egos, Bigger Dangers”, focusing on how the fierce war of words between the US and North Korean leaders might inadvertently lead to a hot conflict.

The tensions between the US and North Korea have lately taken on a personal dimension as each of their leaders began to directly target the other with taunts and insults, furthering the possibility of a conflict by miscalculation due to the huge egos of the two men involved. Trump began by calling Kim "rocket man", which he later modified to "little rocket man", and aggressively told the UN that his rival was on a "suicide mission" which might compel the US to "totally destroy" North Korea. In response, Kim fired off with a rare video address directly calling out Trump, labelling him "a rogue and a gangster playing with fire", and vowed that he will "tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire".

Soon thereafter, the US flew nuclear bombers very close to North Korea's maritime border, which prompted Kim's government to warn that they might shoot them down because the US had "declared war" on their country. It was around that time that Trump said that Kim and his Foreign Minister "won't be around much longer", which triggered North Korea to threaten that it will "totally annihilate" the US with a nuclear strike on the mainland. Trump then scolded his adversaries for using such language, but then proceeded to turn up the notch by declaring that he's ready to use a "devastating" military option against them if need be. Considering what he said at the UN about "totally destroying" North Korea, this probably implies the use of nuclear weapons.

Taking a look at the bigger picture, there's certainly the very serious risk of a military conflict erupting between the US and North Korea on the state-to-state levels, but the rhetoric between the two sides' leaders is fanning the flames and making this ever more likely. Both countries have a Commander-in-Chief who has the absolute unilateral authority to take matters into his own hands and launch an attack against the other, including through the use of nuclear weapons, whether preemptively or as part of a defensive second-strike option. Given the power that Trump and Kim both hold in this regard, their war of words on one another's ego might be a psychological ploy to get the other to either back down or make a rash decision that they'll soon come to regret.

Yeo Kim Chooi, Malaysian political commentator stopped by to share his views.

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