Donald Trump’s mental instability, pugnacity and insatiable ego assumed new heights of treachery this week, with the president taking to Twitter to once again threaten nuclear war.
The fragility and cupidity of the president’s ego should be no surprise. And, his preoccupation with, let’s just say the size of things, also is nothing new.
These attributes of the 45th president have been comedic fodder for some time. But, the daily dose of White House Twitter ranting loses its comedic value when it threatens the death of millions to stroke the president’s flaccid ego.
Plenty of Trumpists have praised Trump’s “strength” in this crisis. I fear there is little use in explaining that a man who can be baited into threatening nuclear war via Twitter lacks the strength of character and mind to be trusted with a nuclear arsenal.
Those who cheer the president’s reckless taunting of an equally unstable megalomaniac perhaps assume a war in the Koreas would be just another grand military adventure, with few casualties and plenty of profit.
Simulations of even a conventional war predict as many as one million Americans and South Koreans would die before the war was “won.” Add in nuclear weapons and the tolls tip eight million or more.
Risking these human costs over a perceived slight on social media marks the temperament of a man who has no business holding any position of authority over the lives of other people’s children.
Some will argue this crisis calls for Trump’s brand of “strength,” perhaps forgetting this is not the first time a U.S. president has had to face a nuclear threat.
A look at history reveals the stark contrast between men worthy of the office and our current president.
When President Kennedy faced the Cuban Missile Crisis, he balanced strength and diplomacy on a razor’s edge.
In his Oct. 22, 1962, address Kennedy warned against the danger of engaging in offensive threats.
Nikita Krushchev’s shoe-banging incident at the U.N. at that point was the most ridiculous and dangerous statement made by a head of state in a nuclear crisis, in contrast to Kennedy’s cool demeanor and unwavering strength.
Now, our president eclipses little Nikita in blind idiocy by engaging in offensive threats on Twitter.
Some of you will discount JFK because he bore the dreaded “D” after his name. Let’s turn, then, to the Gipper — Ronald Reagan — who presided over some of the most dangerous times in the Cold War.
In his 1984 State of the Union address, Reagan summed up the lunacy of thinking we could “win” a nuclear war.
“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Reagan said. “The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”
In the book “Reagan’s Secret War,” the 40th president outlined the delicate task of navigating international conflict in the nuclear age.
“The challenge of statesmanship is to have the vision to dream of a better, safer world and the courage, persistence, and patience to turn that dream into a reality,” Reagan said.
“Our moral imperative,” he went on, “is to work with all our powers for that day when the children of the world grow up without the fear of nuclear war.”
Oh Gipper, how we miss you.
Of course, comparisons between Trump and any other president, of any party, of any time are fruitless, because Trump doesn’t deserve to be mentioned alongside any of his predecessors.
Where statesmanship, the careful and calculated show of force and artful crafting of alliances once guided us to safety, we now live at the whims of a dangerous, petulant child whose ego craves the distinction of starting a war.
History will judge our nation on how we survive this presidency, and the impact we allow it to have on humanity.
I pray this period will be remembered as it should — as an embarrassing blemish on the history of our republic — and not as the time in which we allowed our prejudices, insecurities and fears to start a costly and wholly unnecessary war.