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Friends and enemies often swap sides and end up respecting each other. It is an age-old theme in Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars and Enemy at the Gates. This is because aggression, unlike indifference, establishes a relationship between two individuals who can often end up respecting each-other’s tenacity – hence the popular expression regarding love and hate being two parts of the same coin.
We see this peculiar dynamic of mutual respect between two leaders whose broader respectability is generally questionable: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Part of a broader phenomenon of challenging the status quo, Trump was arguably elected for his brash, “rough round the edges” brand that challenges conventional politics, however incompetent this challenge may be. However, “rough round the edges” comes with its own pitfalls.
Through his Twitter storms, Donald Trump earlier threw verbal jibes at Kim Jong-un, once claiming that his nuclear “button” (as if nuclear deployment is not a deeply complicated process) was bigger than that of North Korea. Almost like a child with a deeper, underlying inferiority complex.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
The crisis grew very tense, with many genuinely fearful of what two largely irrational individuals with “their hands” on nuclear weapons could exactly be capable of.
Then things soon became clearer.
It is an age-old political strategy to create an issue, resolve it, then expect praise from the wider public. During the Cold War, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher renewed relationships with the US and seized back control of Britain’s colonial territory in the Falkland Islands.
This added to growing tensities with the Soviet Union, only for Margaret Thatcher to then establish herself as an ally and mentor of Mikhail Gorbachev, sparking the dissolution of Soviet Russia.
In the US’ own “Cold War” with North Korea, Trump has now U-turned and entered denuclearisation discussions with Kim Jong-un. Since, he has not stopped signposting these discussions in person and on social media.
It is either a very clever or very stupid strategy to create a crisis with North Korea, “solve” the crisis you yourself have created, and then expect praise and recognition from the general public for clearing up your own mess.
— Arab Research & Advocacy Bureau (@arabbureau) March 10, 2018
The bare minimum that Trump should be doing as President is clearing any crisis he has contributed to. This is not an admirable action, nor a favour, rather what is expected as a minimal standard from the leader of the most influential country in the world.