We were listening to the segment on 60 Minutes Sunday night in which Oprah Winfrey was interviewing pro-Trump and anti-Trump voters from Michigan, and we were struck by the comment of one man as to why he voted for Trump. He voiced a common refrain that many Trump supporters expressed during the campaign: The voter said he was frustrated with the gridlock and hypocrisy in Washington and saw in Mr. Trump someone who would “blow up” the system.
Although the Trump supporter was speaking metaphorically (we assume), it is clear that Trump himself — who campaigned as an anti-war, anti-interventionist candidate — was speaking quite literally when he said in no uncertain terms at the United Nations last week that he will “totally destroy North Korea.”
A short time ago in this column, we postulated that the likely scenario for war to break out on the Korean peninsula will be for Donald Trump to bait North Korea with some sort of provocation, and when North Korea responds with some sort of military response, Trump then will have the excuse he needs to start a real war — not just a war of lunatic-raving Tweets — with North Korea.
That would appear to be the sort of thing that happened this weekend, when U.S. military fighter aircraft and bombers flew north of the South Korea/North Korea demarcation line, though in international waters, for the first time in almost 20 years.
North Korea shot down a U.S. spy plane in 1969 under similar circumstances, but Richard Nixon chose to do nothing at that time. But does anyone doubt that if North Korea takes the bait and answers a future provocation with a military response, that Trump will order our military to begin an all-out war that will be catastrophic in so many ways?
The modus operandi of dictatorial regimes the world over is that when they are failing domestically, they create foreign threats to get their citizenry to “rally ‘round the flag.” That’s how the North Korean regime has been playing it for 50 years, telling its people that America is bent on their destruction in order to win support for its horrible policies on the homefront.
One of the lessons of history is that wars often come about not so much because of deliberate actions, but because of a misreading of events that results in a miscalculation of the intent of one’s enemies. World War II was an example of the former, but World War I was the latter.
Trump seems to know nothing about history. No doubt he thinks that if he starts a war with North Korea, then he may be able to achieve a higher level of approval ratings from the American people.
We can only hope that the military men who are his advisers will not carry out any of his orders that could plunge the world into chaos, death, and destruction.