Soothing the Savage Beasts: Trump vs.Kim Jong-un

William Congreve wrote in the play, The Mourning Bride, that “music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.”  The line is often twisted into “ soothe the savage beast” which may be more appropriate to this piece.Trump Jong

Our saber-rattling, questionably stable President is engaged in a contest with a questionably unstable Kim Jong-un.

Both men control nuclear weapons. The United States arsenal is immense, the North Korean’s minuscule. But even a small nuclear weapon can unleash unimaginable destructive power.

While both are armed with weapons of mass destruction, one must question if they are equally equipped with intelligence, rationality, and demeanor to solve this peacefully.

Near the end of the Cold War, the artist Sting released a song called “Russians.”  Here are a couple of lines from that song.

In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets.
MIster Krushchev said, “We will bury you.”
I don’t subscribe to this point of view.
It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too.
How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence.
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology.
Believe me when I say to you,
I hope the Russians love their children too

It made many realize that ideological differences do not mitigate the similarities of our humanity. We are all human.

Even Misters Trump and Jong-un

Many would argue the Kim Jong-un is the more dangerous of the two. He must be insane to challenge the US. Perhaps he holds a messianic view of challenging the Great Satan as some others refer to the US.

I think not. Kim Jong-un’s history has been one of consolidating his power to survive and hold onto his position. Even if he doesn’t realize launching a nuclear weapon at Americans would cause the annihilation of his country, there are many others within the North Korean military that do. It is why Kim Jong-un purges the leadership on occasion. This is evidence of disunity within the command structure. Of some disagreement on policy. It is evidence of rational hope.

China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and other countries within striking distance of North Korea missiles have a vested interest in containing this challenge.  These countries will do what is in their best interest, and understand when we do what is in ours. But they will also look to us to act like a superpower, not a super-bully willing to decide international policies by bellicose tweets and empty, grammar school level rhetoric.

This is a geopolitical test of our President for which I fear his experience, demeanor, and unwillingness to listen to sage advice makes him ill-prepared. A misjudgment based on emotional militarized slogans puts millions of innocent people at risk.

This is not the time to beat plowshares into swords, but the sheath the swords to let rational discourse save the planet.

There is another song, by the Rolling Stones, which fits both the man in the White House and the cellar dweller in North Korea.

If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop
If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop

I’ve been running hot
You got me ticking gonna blow my top
If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop
Never stop, never stop, never stop

You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
You make a grown man cry
Spread out the oil, the gasoline
I walk smooth, ride in a mean, mean machine
Start it up

If Kim Jong-un fires the first shot, it will be his last. But we would be guilty of using a bomb to kill a fly. It is incumbent on us to remember that along with that fly we would kill millions of humans who love their children.

When diplomacy, rational toughness, deliberative thinking, and consensus building is most needed, we have a WWE Wrestling buffoon for a President.  Our only hope is he hasn’t bothered to read the instructions on unleashing the nukes.


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