Donald Trump keeps topping himself: His latest threat – to “totally destroy” a country of 25 million people – marks the first time (at least in my memory) that a genocidal threat was vocalized from the rostrum of the United Nations. Perhaps this was a deterrent threat, but deterrence doesn’t apply to those who are “suicidal” – Trump’s depiction of Kim Jong Un. Perhaps this was a prelude to negotiations, but the author of The Art of the Deal has yet to offer one to the “rocket man.” Instead, he has relied on threats to prompt somebody else to solve the North Korean problem.
Political scientists have offered us the “madman theory” to explain bellicosity in pursuit of favorable outcomes in a crisis, but its foremost practitioner, Richard Nixon, failed utterly at signaling craziness during crises on his watch. Nixon was paranoid, to be sure, but he was just too calculating to be a madman. Now we have ourselves two madmen facing off – something political scientists, pundits and novelists never conceptualized. Or maybe neither Trump nor the young scion of the Kim dynasty is mad enough to start a war that results in nuclear exchanges. Maybe they are just wildly flamboyant character actors. We don’t know.
Read the full article in Spearhead Research.