America has resumed its self-proclaimed role as ‘Team America – world police’, following further tensions with North Korea. However, on this occasion, it is a boisterous, thin-skinned Donald Trump standing at the helm as Commander in Chief. As I sit and listen to the war of words exchanged by President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, it begs the question – Who really is the greater threat to world peace?
It has become increasingly noticeable that both leaders seem to share very similar characteristics. We have learnt that throughout Donald Trump’s career, he has no qualms about firing people – be it on the Celebrity Apprentice USA, or even in his own administration as President. Whereas in North Korea, we have learnt that Kim Jong-Un will quickly eliminate those around him who he believes to be a threat to his leadership, and his regime – even if they are his own relatives.
With this in mind, is it fair to say that one leader is a greater threat than their adversary, or is there a credible argument that both leaders are equally dangerous, and pose the same threat to world peace? I will let you be the judge as we take a closer look at both leaders.
If you voted for Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election, you will most likely be satisfied with his time in the White House thus far. It most certainly hasn’t lacked controversy, with the media continuing to accuse Russia of influencing the election outcome, followed by the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey and other White House representatives.
Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Since being sworn in as President, Donald Trump has been extremely vocal over social media, and has chosen to use such channels as a platform to share his views on world leaders, White House Representatives, and not to mention the “Fake News Media”. But his rhetoric concerning North Korea in light of further successful missile tests has angered Kim Jong-Un, and resulted in further tension between both nations.
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2017
North Korea has accused the President of “driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war”; following a statement from Donald Trump insisting that any further threats from the North will be met with “fire and fury”. Kim Jong-Un retaliated to this by stating that North Korea was considering launching a missile strike towards Guam, a US territory in the Pacific.
Being caught in the crossfire of threats is nothing new for the people of Guam, although on this occasion, they are led by a very different type of President in Donald Trump. Unlike his predecessors, Trump is inexperienced when it comes to the mechanics of foreign policy, and dealing with rogue states. To some degree, this makes him a threat because as we have previously witnessed, he often makes emotive decisions as opposed to rational ones – Not necessarily the best trait for a Commander in Chief to carry. Trump believes that the US and its allies need to be tough and decisive on North Korea, but what does this mean exactly to the President himself? We are yet to discover if Trump’s words will be followed by actions, and in the meantime, the international community will watch on with uncertainty.
Imagine a political system without a formal opposition, a system which isolates its citizens from western civilisation, and a system where you can inherit power simply through your family roots. This is what makes North Korea so unique.
However, despite its uniqueness, North Korea often makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whilst it possesses the largest military institution in the world, it is known for its poor human rights, widespread malnutrition, and the cult of personality surrounding its Supreme Leader. It is estimated that approximately 40% of the population live in poverty, with much of its wealth distributed to the capital Pyongyang.
But the lack of distributed wealth isn’t the main cause for concern in North Korea. Instead, it is the brutality of the regime led by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, who, in recent years, has demonstrated exactly how he deals with ‘disloyalty’.
In 2013, the international community witnessed a shocking announcement from North Korea, stating that Jang Song-Thaek, uncle to Kim Jong-Un, had been executed for a number of crimes including “plotting to overthrow the state”. North Korea’s news agency, KCNA, denounced him as “worse than a dog” after listing a series of crimes which he allegedly committed.
Further executions have taken place since this period; in April 2015, former Defence Chief, Hyon Yong-chol, was publicly executed for falling asleep during a military rally. Such purges were carried out to further demonstrate the power of Kim Jong-Un, but to some degree, they also demonstrate a lack of stability within the regime.
Should we be concerned?
Given the USA’s history with nuclear weapons, I often wonder why they believe they have the right to determine who should have access to nuclear power, and vice versa. The central argument, and notion carried by the USA is that North Korea should not have access to nuclear weapons because they will use them. Is this really the case? A nuclear war would not be in North Korea’s national interest for a number of reasons – Not only would they jeopardise their relationship with China, their only trading partner and ally, but they are significantly outnumbered when we take into account the international community which is united against them. Kim Jong-Un is fully aware that any use of missiles on western nations like the USA would inevitably result in the demise of his regime, a regime which the Kim Dynasty has worked hard to build over many years.
Donald Trump is a President who is still learning the political ropes in Washington, and as previously mentioned, largely inexperienced in terms of relations with rogue states. Therefore, whilst his rhetoric towards North Korea is concerning to many, perhaps this temperament is simply due to a lack of political experience. There is of course the argument that North Korea has no intention of using nuclear weapons, but simply wants to possess them in order to be viewed and acknowledged as an emerging, military superpower. Regardless of Kim’s intentions, I do not believe this debate is a matter of determining the greater threat to world peace, it is a matter of identifying the real reason why Donald Trump is hell bent on halting the North’s nuclear program.