In a remarkable 24 hours on Tuesday, President Trump fired off a barrage of 16 tweets (“Trump picks up where he left off, with a tweet storm,” Page A1, Jan. 3). None perhaps more electrifying or more alarming than his reaction to what the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on New Year’s Eve about his nuclear button. The president countered that he not only also has a nuclear button on his desk, but that his button was “bigger” than Kim’s and “works.” It is hard to imagine a more cavalier offhand comment on a more profound and serious topic than our nuclear strike capability. There is no fear greater or more existential than that of a nuclear war, especially if you live in South Korea or Japan, where the threat is the most real.
Mr. President, do you even think about the consequences before you fire off a tweet? As you yourself like to say in a different context, “The whole world is watching.”
Lethal threats treated as sport
Donald Trump has dangerously gone from bragging about his body parts to bragging about his nuclear arsenal, something that could result in a world catastrophe. It is absolutely frightening how casually Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are talking about nuclear threats, almost as if it were a sporting event rather than the possible destruction of mankind.
Kenneth L. Zimmerman
Huntington Beach, Calif.
History has recorded many examples of disreputable leaders. For one, there’s the notorious Nero, who fiddled while Rome burned. In our case, we have a tweeting birdbrain who treats his role in the government like he’s still the host of some TV show, with plenty of slapstick entertainment designed to divert the masses from real problems. In previous cases, the public didn’t really have any say concerning problems of misrule. But now, under the aegis of democracy, the fault would fall squarely on ourselves.
Donald the Disrupter is taking Democratic heat for his nuclear button tweet, but Democrats play an elite game when they fault his tweets about North Korea. In fact, they are dangerously close to denying the truth, for our president’s nuclear trigger is bigger than the one over there and, furthermore, his hairdo is better. Remember, that for all his urbanity and reserved articulate expression, President Barack Obama bequeathed us a nuclear North Korea.
Sanctions alone will never force North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear missile program (“Trump picks up where he left off, with a tweet storm,” Page A1, Jan. 3). But sanctions may have brought Kim to the table to negotiate with South Korea. What Kim seems to want most is to stop joint US-South Korea military exercises scheduled for February and March, perhaps in the context of the ancient idea of an Olympic truce. If Kim is willing to put a freeze on his nuclear weapon development in exchange for a freeze on military exercises that he finds threatening, the United States and South Korea should agree. If North Korea delays its nuclear development, the world will be a lot safer. In exchange, South Korea and the United States delay preparations to fight a war that could never be won by either side.
The “offer” of possible talks between North Korea and South Korea is not genuine (“South Korea proposes talks after overtures from the North,” Nation, Jan. 3). This is simply another attempt by Kim Jong Un to annoy the United States. If only this approach were that simple, but there are a number of trouble spots where words have failed so often to help adjoining territories. For every north and south Ireland we have a north and south Sudan. Talks are always the best solution, but in this case a third party such as the United Nations would be a better approach.
The devastation of nuclear war
The medical consequences of war with North Korea are so devastating, they are almost unimaginable (“Trump tweets that he has a bigger ‘nuclear button’ than North Korea’s,” BostonGlobe.com, Jan. 3). Increasingly, Americans from all political backgrounds are calling for negotiations with North Korea, without preconditions.
Dr. Philip Lederer