810 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 6 N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE can any longer take solace in there being any deliberate method to Trump’s madness. Instead we have reached the point of full-on name-calling: in August 2017, President Trump warned that “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States” or “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”. At the United Nations in September 2017 he moved to saying, “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. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” And then the Trumpian tweet in response to the North Korean foreign minister’s response to his own non-presidential remarks: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” North Korea characterized the president’s last message as a U.S. declaration of war. By the time of publication, if we are still around by then, who knows how else Trump may have shot off his mouth (or his thumbs), or what else he may have been inclined to shoot. A passage from First Corinthians captures what many people of various faiths in practice do: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” President Obama quoted from this epistle in his first inaugural address in 2009, seeking to convey the work that lay ahead. Clearly none of this passage has permeated the understanding of his successor, the supposedly Presbyterian President Trump, though he seeks to appeal to the Christian right. Easier for Trump to suggest that President Obama was a secret Muslim than seek to arrive at an understanding of any faith or philosophy or, indeed, of sensible diplomatic practices which involve being, well, diplomatic. While the world emerged from the Cold War largely intact, this seems at times to have been by accident rather than design. The “superpowers” themselves on occasion came perilously close to war. Some of the crass rhetoric and gestures of the present find echoes in the U.S./Western European Soviet relationship during the Cold War. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was, in the eyes of British Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan and in words reminiscent of some of today’s insults, a “fat, vulgar man” with “pig eyes”.1 In an interesting throwback (or perhaps a throw forward) to recent United Nations shenanigans—though shoe now on the other foot, so to speak—Khrushchev was in turn known for an incident in which he pounded his fists and apparently a shoe at the United Nations General Assembly and threatened (though thanks to an inaccurate translation) to “bury” the West.
Nov Advocate 2017
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