Rocket Man and Agent Orange Should Find a New Playground

By Ryan Lau | USA

Looking for a nice, lighthearted article? The title of this piece sure would suggest it to be so, but it is with no shortage of embarrassment that I must declare it all too seriously. American foreign relations with North Korea have taken another turn for the worse, and it appears that each time this happens, the level of sophistication and class used by our world leaders drops considerably. Every time it appears our leaders have reached rock bottom, a new insult is born, or in this case, President Donald Trump now feels the need to insist that his office nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s. It is frankly unsettling that someone needs to step forward and say this, but these two world leaders need to leave their pettiness on the playground, preferably not one with millions of children and adults. 

Simply stated, the level of informality and clear childish behavior that presidents of major world players have taken on needs to be greatly altered. Just this Tuesday, Un stated that “the nuclear button is on his desk at all times”. I’m not entirely sure where President Trump is confused by this statement, but it appears that it means that, well, the nuclear button is on his desk at all times. Though there is a significant diplomatic advantage in bluffing about these sorts of statements and letting them impact American decisions without evidence of their veracity would be a foolish move. However, there are countless more sophisticated manners of response than to simply brag about the size and capabilities of his own nuclear button. Shortly after Un’s brash tweet, Trump’s response was an embarrassment:

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

-President Donald Trump, January 2, 2018

Though seemingly playing the tough guy, Trump does not tell anyone anything they are not already well aware of with this tweet. Though North Korea, like most authoritarian left-wing regimes, has dealt with significant food shortages, this matter is entirely irrelevant to the presence or absence of a nuclear threat. It is entirely an attempt to draw sympathy towards the people and against the North Korean leader. While a valid strategy, it does not belong in such a heated and important matter. There is also obviously no doubt by Un, his regime, or anyone else in the world that the United States has a larger nuclear capability than does North Korea. Considering that we have been stockpiling our nuclear arsenal since the end of World War II, this once again is simply a line added to infuriate Un, which is the last thing that should be done to someone with nuclear capabilities of their own.

Despite this, Trump continues down the road of poking a stick at an angry man with nuclear weapons. Now, if North Korea’s nuclear claims were not veritable, this strategy may do more to subdue the nation. However, the United States government has confirmed multiple times that North Korea’s tests have been successful, with tests of everything from hydrogen bombs to ballistic missiles. This threat is not a joke. Conversely, many fellow non-interventionists will cite the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction as a rationale for why a nuclear war is impossible. Essentially, MAD suggests that out of fear of retaliation and great total human casualty, two nuclear powers will both permanently hesitate in firing the first shot, thus avoiding great loss of human life and preventing nuclear war through unadulterated fear of fallout. However, the principle implies rational human decision. Rationality is never a given, especially when two world leaders, both quick to ignite, begin taking irrelevant yet brutal shots against each other’s country.

If a pair of adults desires to engage in childish arguments regarding the state of each other’s possessions, so be it. If those two adults just so happen to be the leaders of nuclear powerhouses, so be it. If those two adult leaders of nuclear powerhouses are engaging in such behaviors in regards to their nuclear capabilities? It is at this point which we now have a serious societal problem. The eventual loser of such a spar could not simply laugh it off or even retreat in anger, for there is a serious possibility of their being a great deal of blood on the hands of both parties.

While Trump is absolutely correct in saying that his nuclear arsenal could absolutely devastate North Korea, is it really worth the millions of innocent lives that would be lost in the process, just to kill one oppressive leader? Is is worth the millions of potential American lives, if Un was to be provoked into attacking first, ignoring MAD in a fit of rage? The simple answer to both of these questions is no. Trump and Un are using human lives as gambling chips, each hoping that the other will be afraid, yet not enough to strike. Fear has limits. Nuclear war, though not necessarily probable, is not impossible, and thus should never be remotely a part of a conversation. In a bar, two fighting men with guns would provoke significantly less fear and overall potential aggression than two men would without guns. Multiply that fear and overall potential aggression infinitely, and give the two men nuclear weapons. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are threatening the future of humanity due to a petty human desire to one-up each other. These men should not be sitting behind nuclear buttons in their offices. They should be finding a new playground and returning to their positions when they are capable of acting like mature adults who recognize the sanctity of human life, and the permanency of death.