This week has seen further posturing by those two pillars of international diplomacy, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. They are beginning to look like two schoolboys arguing over who can urinate the highest up the school yard wall. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t clever, and it’s a challenge neither really wants to take up, just in case they lose.
Which begs the question, who has the most to lose by dragging us into another conflict in Korea? In the red corner, you have the world’s most secretive and militarised nation, under the dictatorial rule of a mad man prepared to do anything to aggrandise himself and his dynastic line. In the blue corner, you have North Korea.
Kim Jong-un’s posturing and open defiance of every UN resolution and against the expressed advice of his closest allies are playing into the hands of Donald Trump. Mr Trump, in turn, continues to use social media and inflammatory rhetoric that we can only assume he knows will do anything but calm the situation. I get the feeling that behind the scenes there are hundreds of diplomatic staff rushing about like mad things trying to keep everything under control. Now that must be a hair-raising job, being a liaison between North Korea and the US.
What is worrying is the North Korean decision to fire rockets over Japan. What do they hope to gain by such an action? They can’t believe that such a “show of strength” would prevent Japan from getting involved in any way. As far as I can see, far from it. Having recently changed their law to allow her forces to be used overseas, Japan is another potential enemy for the isolated state which already has far too many.
Even China is not happy with their recent rocket launches. They recognise the threat that these actions pose. It is in everyone’s best interests to keep the peace in this volatile region, but with the likes of Trump and Jong-un threatening the ultimate pissing contest, it is hard to see how conflict can be avoided.
Of course this week Donald Trump has been somewhat distracted by the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Harvey as it ripped through the southern states. Whilst these storms are nothing new – they happen every year – the growing ferocity of the weather over the past few years has to be of concern to everyone. But, with a President that openly denies that climate change is real, let alone a threat, residents and businesses of America’s vulnerable southern states are going to have to look elsewhere for help. Donald Trump’s determination to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and his muddled and hardly encouraging response to questions about climate change is probably a greater threat to the future stability of his nation than his posturing over North Korea.
Of course, we have plenty of our own politicians in denial about climate change. I am sure it is no coincidence that the majority of them are rich and powerful because of climate damaging industries, and whose incomes depend on the status quo. Short term gain over long term benefits is very much the mind set of a certain type of person. We all know that such short-termism has no place in global politics, but unfortunately, that is the way it is. It is just a shame that the current “leader of the free world” is probably the most politically myopic of the lot.
Maybe, rattling Kim Jong-un’s cage is Trump’s way of distracting the media and his opponents from the mess he is making in other areas. He does seem to have a knack for antagonising other world leaders. I suppose we all need a hobby…