Friday December 1, 2017
Trump’s behavior raises questions of competency
Donald Trump potentially has millions of lives in his hands as the threat of a devastating war with North Korea swiftly escalates.
Yet the President of the United States is raising new questions about his temperament, his judgment and his understanding of the resonance of his global voice and the gravity of his role with a wild sequence of insults, inflammatory tweets and bizarre comments.
On Wednesday Trump caused outrage and sparked fears of violent reprisals against Americans and US interests overseas by retweeting graphic anti-Muslim videos by an extreme far right British hate group. Earlier this week he used a racial slur in front of Native American war heroes. He’s attacked global press freedom, after cozying up to autocrats on his recent Asia tour.
And now there are reports that the President has revived conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama’s birthplace and is suggesting an “Access Hollywood” video on which he was heard boasting sexually assaulting women, and for which he apologized last year, had been doctored.
In normal times, it would be a concern that the President is conducting himself in a manner so at odds with the decorum and propriety associated for over two centuries with the office he holds.
But the sudden escalation of the North Korean crisis, following the Stalinist state’s launch of its most potent ever missile on Tuesday, takes the world across a dangerous threshold.
If diplomacy is unable to defuse the North Korea crisis, or slow its march to the moment when Kim Jong Un can credibly claim to be able to target all of the United States with a nuclear payload, Trump will face one of the most intricate dilemmas of any modern President. Will he live with the threat posed by a mercurial, wildly unpredictable adversary? Or, will he launch what could turn out to be a hugely bloody and destructive war to remove Kim’s nuclear threat?
There will be a premium on Trump’s judgment, his capacity to absorb the most serious detail and to make choices that could put many, many lives at risk, and draw the United States into escalating situations in Northeast Asia. Trump would be required to switch from the swaggering, untethered political persona he has been reluctant to drop as President into the role of sober statesman, unifying the nation and US allies — a switch he has rarely achieved so far in his 10 months in power.
On Wednesday, in St. Charles, Missouri, Trump stuck to his preferred name calling, again blasting Kim as “Little Rocket Man” and branding him a “sick puppy” after his White House earlier promised severe new sanctions against Pyongyang. But he didn’t elaborate on his vows to “handle” the situation. (Continued: CNN)