Two of a kind

The Donald’s antics with North Korea likely torch the prospect of peaceful diplomatic solutions with its southern neighbor

Most Americans agree that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is irrational, bombastic and narcissistic. He is given to fits of propagandist rage wherein he brags about his nation’s nuclear prowess—and more specifically, the ability of those weapons to reach the United States. In short, he is a dangerous man.

Thing is, he is not unlike the president of the United States. Indeed, we’ve seen time and again that he and Donald Trump are cut from the same cloth. To wit: Trump has repeatedly participated in a war of words with Kim, calling him, among other things, “rocket man” and “short and fat.” The latter was in response to Kim calling Trump a “mentally deranged dotard” (a senile old man).

Trump is easily provoked and he demonstrated as much again this week with more fourth-grade antics. After North Korea’s leader asserted—during his annual New Year’s Day speech—that the “nuclear button is always on the desk of my office,” Trump responded in a tweet that he has a “bigger” and “more powerful” button that “works!”

To be clear, the president of the United States—in cringe-inducing innuendo—just dared a seemingly unstable foreign leader to take nuclear action. It’s a virtually unprecedented move for a U.S. president and an unwise one, as it not only stands to strain relations with North Korea’s most powerful allies, China and Russia, but it also threatens ties with U.S. allies who are increasing wary of Trump’s rhetoric.

The president’s juvenile and knee-jerk response also comes at a particularly bad time—literally the day after Kim expressed his wish for “peaceful resolution with our southern border” and interest in sending a delegation to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, a potential olive branch and path to easing political tensions between the North and South.

Trump has been roundly criticized for his lack of diplomatic acumen. Many have pointed to Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote—“to talk softly and carry a big stick”—as a style for the president to emulate. But the president won’t adhere to that. He’s incapable of restraint. He’s mentally unstable. In fact, he’s proven himself to be just as dangerous as his North Korean nemesis.