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Trump's tough remarks recall the words of George W. Bush

By Wen Zongduo | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-27 07:32

Trump's tough remarks recall the words of George W. Bush

US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, Sept 19, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

US President Donald Trump's high-pitched war of words with the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un has only intensified since he threatened to "totally destroy North Korea" during his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly on Sept 19.

Despite UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warning "fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings", Trump strayed far away from the UN Charter when he threatened the extinction of another nation if forced to defend the United States and its allies.

Moreover, at the hall where nations should be respected as equals, Trump named the DPRK as a "rogue regime", while reciting a list of nations the US isn't happy with for one reason or another, and complaining about "nations" who trade with them.

This intentional lining-up of adversaries recalled former US president George W. Bush, singling out Iraq, Libya, the DPRK and Iran as "rogue regimes" before he ordered the invasion of Iraq to bring down Saddam Hussein, based on lies he told the world.

Bush's adversarial thinking was so disastrous it resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Libya, and continuous chaos in the Middle East. The consequences of Trump's adversarial thinking could be even worse given it could spark a nuclear war.

Trump's cavalier threats, at best viewed as poor attempts at "the art of coercion, intimidation and deterrence" favored by strategist Thomas Schelling, have yielded little but entrenching the DPRK's resolve to continue its weapons programs, with Kim saying Trump's remarks have simply convinced him "the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the end".

But the DPRK's missile launches and the threats it keeps making to the US are not conducive to resolving their differences in a peaceful manner.

The exchange of escalating threats by the "little rocket man" as Trump referred to Kim and "the mentally deranged US dotard" as Kim described Trump has made the peace efforts of China, Russia, Germany, France and the Republic of Korea all the more difficult.

However, as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, there is still hope for peace, as the US and DPRK, although they might not be willing to accept it, do have common ground: both want to safeguard their security.

And the knot would be easy to untie if the US dropped its adversarial approach.

As DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yongho said on Friday: "The very reason the DPRK has to possess nuclear weapons is because of the US."

For the DPRK, the US' hostility is a threat to its entire existence. Trump's adversarial stance such as his weekend tweet that those in North Korea "won't be around much longer" only aggravates the DPRK's existential fears. The US military exercises are making things worse.

The DPRK, and the rest of the world, have no doubt the US is militarily powerful enough to annihilate a small country of about 30 million. But just because it is capable of doing so, there is no reason to act like a bully.

Trump should heed the words of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said on Aug 1, "we do not seek a regime change", and the DPRK and the US should "sit down for a dialogue".

Doing so, the US would find that the best way to safeguard its people is not through bluster that eventually has to be backed up by force, but by inking a peace treaty with DPRK and extending mutual security guarantees.

The author is a senior editor with China Daily. wen@chinadailyhk.com

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