Since 9/11, the Republican Party has increasingly abandoned the principles of prudential foreign policy. War in the Middle East propelled the party toward a plethora of military commitments overseas, and they’ve refused to scale back those commitments as years have passed. GOP leaders criticized President Obama for “leading from behind,” while largely favoring strongman tactics and belligerence. From Afghanistan to Iran, Russia to North Korea, GOP policymakers have advocated for “shows of strength” wherever and whenever necessary.
But with North Korea, there couldn’t be a more dangerous methodology. Kim Jong Un is a bully and a narcissist, the leader of a nation determined to display its supposed power and greatness on the world stage. The more belligerent Trump’s language, the more Pyongyang will respond in kind. This posturing is all about being the biggest and meanest kid in the room — and has nothing to do with a prudent use of force. Unfortunately, in employing his “fire and fury” rhetoric, Trump has done just what every child is told not to do with the insecure bully: give him attention.