Since Trump got elected, doomsday soothsayers have been back in business. Our planet’s demise in a ball a thousand nuclear explosions at the hands of an orange man-child celebrity has long been foretold, but is there any truth to this? As with Brexit, there has undoubtedly been a lot of overreaction and fear spreading going on surrounding politics’ favourite clown, which has only served to fuel his anti-establishment stance and the love of his devout supporters. But with an equally stroppy North Korean baby armed with the toys of nuclear missiles co-existing with the Donald, how realistic is the threat of nuclear war?
It’s easy to dismiss suggestions of the end of the world as madness – something only possible really in sci-fi or terrible action movies. But let’s look at it properly – the two biggest challenges facing the world today are without a doubt climate change, and the threat of nuclear war. The amount of nuclear missiles currently in the world is enough to totally destroy it more than ten times over – this is a cause for concern, let alone what happens when you place so many of them in the hands of two permanently angry fat men who belong more in a US sitcom than presidential office. The entire world recognises that these nuclear warheads are expensive, pointless and ultimately a total disaster whether you advocate their inclusion or not. Apart from 9 nations: Russia, Pakistan, France, China, India, Israel, North Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom. This is despite a seeming relationship with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, questioning the very legality of these missiles.
The question remains then: would Donald Trump or Kim Jong Un actually use nuclear warheads? We’ve learnt not to take anything these despotic leaders say seriously. But setting aside the Conor McGregor trash talk both leaders seem to be spewing, we may learn more by observing their ideologies and how they cling to power. Kim Jong Un is hard to read, as his iron grip on power is shrouded in mystery. Thus, we must look at the few available facts that we know. We know that his family have a long history of clinging to power ruthlessly at all costs, and that he has seen many other brutal dictatorships crumble in the absence of weapons of mass destruction. This was the case with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Mummar Gaddafi’s Libya. The North Korean dictator is absurd and his sanity may be questioned, but surely it’s logical to assume that he knows the only way to protect his dictatorship is to acquire nuclear weapons to at least counter the US’s incredible arsenal. North Korea has made countless threats in the past which, save for tests, has largely resulted in inaction, compared to what they were threatening to do. These threats have been ramped up by not only Donald’s terrible diplomacy, but his aggression. North Korea is a clear threat, however it seems that their horrific dictatorship only seeks what the US does, mutually assured destruction.
However when it comes to observing Trump, an apparent motive seems unclear or absent, except one. Himself. The US President (still sounds weird I know) has backtracked on nearly every issue, from intervention in Iraq to stating he’d vote Democrat, to imprisoning Hillary Clinton, to just his now-standard and apparently mundane musings of “Who knew healthcare could be so complicated?”. But he has never faultered or compromised in his astounding levels of self-belief, even when vehemently denying basic facts. Adding to that the fact that his tax plans would give himself a tax break, his businesses are still being run by his family and his daily egotistical twitter rants serve himself and nobody else, and the true selfishness of this character begins to show.
When he is matched with North Korea’s Kim, he seems wildly aggressive, even for him. It is a far cry from his seeming protectionist stance he made on the campaign trail. For North Korea, rhetoric of war with the United States is absolutely necessary to cement their place as a global power, to their own people at least. Yet actual war with the United States seems entirely pointless, even considering a great amount of arrogance. Taking into account his dictatorship’s relatively stable state, and the vast scope of indoctrination the average citizen is bombarded with, Kim Jong Un does not need, or I think particularly want , to engage in conflict – he has nothing to prove.
Donald Trump on the other hand, is (theoretically) answerable to his people in a (roughly) democratic state. His approval ratings are the lowest a president has ever had at this point in his tenure, and he looks set to lose the next election in 2020, if he isn’t impeached by that point. Donald Trump has everything to gain from a conflict with North Korea. There can be no greater distraction from Trump’s abysmal leadership than a perceived threat to the United States from North Korea. If he has any hope of clinging onto power in 5 years, he needs something massive. This is it.
It is alarming that such a disastrous human being (let alone world leader) can be allowed so close to the start of a potential war, but it is the state of the world we live in. However, with his constant inability to pass much of his legislation through Congress, to convince his fellow Republicans let alone Democrats to support him, this looks unlikely. There are always executive orders and his status as commander-in-chief, but with the sheer amount of civil unrest in the United States at the moment that shows absolutely no sign of stopping, it is far more likely that it is these that will occupy all of Mr Trump’s time. When that time isn’t being spent on the golf course, that is.