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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Finding Rationality in Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un

Photo credit: Diego Ramirez

In the American mind, North Korea is an almost romanticized conception of Orwellian government control and ruthless dictatorship. Americans picture an insane leader with a handful of nukes and the capacity to blow the entire Earth into nuclear winter. The reality is somewhat murkier, with a calculating, rational North Korea that wants to maintain power for the Kim Jong-un regime.

Recently, North Korea announced their plan to test unarmed ICBM’s, intercontinental ballistic missiles, to fly 2,086 miles from North Korea into the waters surrounding Guam. This resulted in a new set of sanctions by the UN Security Council that will cut North Korean exports.

President Trump responded to their threat with a seemingly off-the-cuff statement about “fire and fury” at a meeting on the opioid epidemic at one of his golf courses.

As dangerous as this unscripted game of nuclear chicken was, it seems to have worked, as it was later reported that Kim Jong-un had decided to wait to test their ICBM’s in Guam’s waters.

In only a few movements of geopolitical chess, Kim Jong-un and North Korea have shown absolute rationality. The response to the economic attack was proportional to that of the threat, then upon being challenged by the United States, they backed down.

By showing strength, North Korea keeps the United States from engaging in a preemptive strike.

The insanity in the equation lies in the fact that our President just tested North Korea’s mettle with apocalyptic threats of “fire and fury.” President Trump apparently forgot he was the President and completely improvised nuclear geopolitics on a whim. At a golf course.

America can deal out fire and fury easily. The problem is, as ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon recently put it, “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons… there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

As rational as North Korea may be, they exist in a tiny gray zone where they can’t be too weak and they can’t be too strong. The more North Korea is prodded, the more likely they’re willing to make a move and preemptively strike, which would be as easy as sticking a few nukes on shipping containers and sending them to major U.S. cities.

President Trump may have stared down Kim Jong-un today, but he plays an insanely risky game, a game that he seems to be making up as he goes and is fueled by some idiotic sense of masculinity.

Like when you see two drunk bros bumping chests and shouting at each other outside a bar until someone backs down. Except with nuclear weapons.

North Korea may act rationally for now, but I’m not sure we’re acting completely rationally ourselves.

Grayson Boyer may be reached at [email protected] or @the_orionnews on Twitter.

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