Great news, everybody: We’re all going to die!
I suppose dying is something we all have to do eventually, but I’m talking about a kind of dying that comes on more quickly and unnaturally than we generally expect. Dying of the swift-and-widespread-incineration variety. The kind of dying one might expect when two unhinged narcissists who happen to lead nuclear-armed countries get into an “I’m-tougher-than-you” standoff.
That’s where we are at the moment, following news that North Korea — led by man-baby Kim Jong Un — has developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside a missile that could theoretically reach the United States, a country presently led by older man-baby Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Trump responded to news of North Korea’s expanded nuclear capability by saying: “North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
That is classic military strategy pulled from the best-selling book, “101 Very Bad Ways to Deal with a Clearly Insane Nuclear-Armed Dictator.” And it reaffirms my belief that President Trump’s mouth is a greater threat to America than North Korea could ever hope to be.
Politico quoted Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and a nuclear expert who has studied North Korea, saying: “The greatest North Korean threat we face is not from a nuclear-tipped missile hitting the U.S. mainland but from Washington stumbling into an inadvertent nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. The president’s statements exacerbate” such concerns.
Without question, North Korea is a threat, but drawing a line in the sand and effectively saying, “If you threaten us again, we’ll nuke you into the Dark Ages” is as feckless as it is dumb. It’s also exactly the sort of thing North Korea’s supreme leader does routinely, and that’s not a leadership model the United States should embrace.
Nothing if not prescient
Predictably, North Korea responded to Trump’s bluster with more saber-rattling, threatening to blow up Guam.
So now, the people of Guam — including many U.S. service members and their families — are wondering if they’re a target while most of the rest of the world fret, are wondering if one or both of these insecure men might be crazy enough to start a nuclear war.
Which leads us back to the whole “we’re all going to die” thing.
I’m hopeful cooler heads will prevail. Or maybe, just maybe, Republicans in Congress will realize the Faustian bargain they made by getting into bed with Trump isn’t worth both a failed agenda and a nuclear winter.
But hope hasn’t gotten me far lately, so I figure we should prepare for the worst. And if you think I’m being an alarmist, remember the words one Donald J. Trump actually tweeted back in August 2013: “Be prepared, there is a small chance that our horrendous leadership could unknowingly lead us into World War III.”
The man is nothing if not tragically prescient.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org