North Korea has long been known for bombastic hyperbole. Their government regularly issues statements threatening to turn South Korea’s presidential office into a “sea of fire.” But now Kim Jong Un and his junta have met their rhetorical match in @RealDonaldTrump.
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won't happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2017
The Norks are nuclear, to be sure, although their tests are so secretive that we aren’t sure if they fizzle or outperform expectations. Now the corpulent dictator announced they are in the “last stage” of developing a true ICBM to carry a warhead.
President-elect Trump’s flat declaration “it won’t happen” is sure to be a hit in the hermit kingdom, where things like light bulbs and food are luxury items.
But Trump has also flirted with closing U.S. bases in Japan and South Korea, two countries most worried about the north’s very real military threat.
“We defend Japan. We defend Germany. We defend South Korea. We defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing a tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune,” Trump said during the first presidential debate.
Shortly after the election, Trump reportedly told South Korean President Park Geun-hye he pledged to continue defending the south. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops in South Korea.
South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Trump agreed with Park and it quoted Trump as saying: “We will be steadfast and strong with respect to working with you to protect against the instability in North Korea.”
Defending Japan and South Korea is apparently a matter of cost-benefit to Trump. But what’s the cost of eating a North Korean nuke? And what’s the cost of trading ever-more-hostile comments mano a mano with Kim Jong Un? North Korea is a pretty unstable place as it is, and telling them “it won’t happen” is more like a dare for them to try.
With Trump in the White House, we might get a very good idea of exactly how crazy Kim is, because Trump never lets a provocation pass by without one-upping it. I don’t think he’s even capable of letting it go.