Trump’s mockery of Kim Jong-un an unwise move

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/18 23:03:40

US President Donald Trump dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "rocket man" when speaking to his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in by phone on Sunday, and then posted the nickname on Twitter. Such mockery may have an adverse impact on solving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

It's probably no big deal to use nicknames in American culture, as Trump has done this to his rivals during the presidential campaign including Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. But since his every word involving foreign leaders matters now, he needs to be aware of diplomatically respecting the North Korean leader.

Hopefully Pyongyang won't take Trump's casual manner on Twitter too seriously. But there is still a possibility that Kim and North Korea will feel insulted by Trump's mockery and take it as a deliberate insult. If so, Pyongyang may become more hostile to Washington, adding fuel to the fire of current confrontation.

If Trump means to provoke Pyongyang, this is definitely neither masterful nor morally justifiable. After all, North Korea, as the weak side against the US, tends to be especially sensitive. If the US still wants to peacefully solve the nuclear issue, a precondition is to respect North Korean leaders, which isn't politically costly. While the US often stresses leadership, it at least should respect others.

North Korea, the US, China and Russia have varied logics in solving the peninsula nuclear issue. The first two, with radical logic, are unable to force the other to accept their own logic. Unless they would rather the crisis end in disaster, they need to draw closer to the logic of China and Russia.

North Korea and the US have gone too far threatening each other in a civilized era. A terrible trend has evolved as they now both menace each other in language and action.

Washington and Pyongyang should avoid trading threats and insults. Instead there should be some room left to maneuver for the slim possibility of easing tensions.

The Western characterization of the North Korean regime as eccentric and conceited may have helped shape the way many people, including Western leaders, understand Pyongyang.

In fact, Pyongyang stubbornly holds to a classical geopolitical mind-set that however the world changes, it needs to be armed and alarmed around the clock.

It's more helpful for the world to seriously understand the reasons behind Pyongyang's desperate nuclear development and provide targeted solutions, rather than scorn and taunts. Isolated, North Korea has no trust in the world and feels acutely about whether or not it is given due respect. In this sense, insults are an unwise approach for a world seeking to maintain communication with Pyongyang.

Both Trump and Kim are characters, men with strong personalities. It's sensible for them to forego personal strife during a nuclear crisis. After all, the risks of the situation often reside largely in the personalities of the leaders involved.

Newspaper headline: Trump’s mockery of Kim an unwise move

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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