Tensions are heating up between the United States and North Korea in a really, really scary way. Kim Jong-un is continuing to conduct potentially dangerous missile tests, while throwing out threatening comments about attacking the U.S. Meanwhile, in quite possibly the worst timing ever, our president has decided to start pointing fingers. Donald Trump is blaming Hillary Clinton for North Korea trouble, which is a real headscratcher.
On Sept. 15, North Korea launched an intermediate range ballistic missile, which flew over Japan's Hokkaido island and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The testing came just one month after Jong-un ordered four other missile tests, the final of which resulted in a missile that flew for 45 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan. According to David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, if that missile's trajectory had been flatter it would have been able to reach the United States, flying as far as Los Angeles, Denver or Chicago.
Amidst all of this, Trump has continued to threaten North Korea, and make broad proclamations that the United States will hit the country hard, if the missile testing continues. He even took to Twitter to accuse Jong-un of having way too much time on his hands.
On Aug. 8, Trump took his taunts a step further, and threatened violence against North Korea.
North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen ... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.
Trump continued to ramp up his threats on Sept. 19 during a speech at the United Nations, and once again asserted that he would have no problem calling for an attack on the country. "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea," the president said.
Oh yeah, and he also decided to give Kim Jong-un the quaint nickname of "rocket man."
His approach is drawing criticism – including from one-time opponent Hillary Clinton.
During an interview with Stephen Colbert on Sept. 19, Clinton explained just why Trump's approach to North Korea is so dangerous. She said,
When you face dangerous situations like what is happening in North Korea, to make it clear, your first approach should always be diplomatic. We view this as dangerous to our allies, to the region, and even to our country. We call on all nations to work with us to try to end the threat posed by Kim Jong-un, and not call him 'Rocket Man' — the old Elton John song — but to say it clearly, we will not tolerate any attacks on our friends or ourselves.
Well, the president didn't take too kindly to this feedback, and on Sept. 20 tweeted out that – *surprise surprise* – it is actually partially Clinton's fault that North Korea appears hellbent on destroying the United States.
Clinton served as secretary of state under the Obama administration, which attempted and failed to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions via diplomacy. The president also appeared to refer to a deal that was struck between the Bill Clinton administration and North Korea in 1994, called the Agreed Framework. The agreement stated that Pyongyang would halt production of nuclear reactors in exchange for energy assistance from the United States.
Can you really blame someone for what their spouse does? If so, we'd all probably be very guilty of a bunch of stuff we had literally nothing to do with – and no one wants that. And whatever either Clinton did or didn't do about North Korea while secretary of state, Trump's exacerbating comments probably haven't helped any.
Based on interviews with Jong-un, it seems as if the North Korean leader has only doubled down on his crusade against the United States following Trump's military threats. North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, released a statement from Jong-un on Sept. 15 saying,
Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the US and make the US rulers dare not talk about military option. We should clearly show the big power chauvinists how our state attains the goal of completing its nuclear force despite their limitless sanctions and blockade.
This is a very complex issue, obviously, but if Trump wants to start pointing fingers he might consider – for just one second – turning that finger around towards himself.