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The Consequences of Reckless Rhetoric

Americans may not be paying much attention to the reckless rhetoric coming from the Trump administration on North Korea, but North Korean officials certainly are:

A close aide to Kim unleashed a torrent of invective against the Trump administration Thursday morning, calling Vice President Pence a “political dummy” for remarks he made to Fox News on Monday.

“As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president,” said Choe Son Hui, a vice foreign minister who was previously the regime’s top official in charge of relations with the United States. The daughter of a former premier, she is also thought to have direct access to Kim.

Pence repeated Trump’s dangerous threat of military action and regime change against North Korea’s government, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the North Koreans were not pleased with what they heard. The Trump administration doesn’t seem to grasp that it is digging itself deeper and deeper into a hole with public comments connecting negotiations with North Korea and what happened to Gaddafi. If the administration wanted to poison the atmosphere leading up to the summit, they could not have done a better job over the last week and a half.

It may be that administration officials are trying to anger North Korea so much that they call off the summit to save Trump from an embarrassing failure, or it may be that they are so clueless about the implications of their rhetoric that they don’t realize that they are jeopardizing negotiations with North Korea for the sake of silly soundbites. Whatever the real reason is, the Trump administration needs to stop with its irresponsible rhetoric if there is to be any chance of salvaging something from this meeting.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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