Bush official's warning on nukes: If Kennedy had acted like Trump, 'we would all be dead'


After days of lashing out at hurricane victims, Donald Trump tried to change the narrative by essentially threatening nuclear war against North Korea. As a former Bush ethics lawyer noted, if President Kennedy had acted this way during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it would have spelled disaster for the world.

After a week of embarrassing and pathetic responses to the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Maria across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a weekend filled with petulant sniping at the victims of the storm, Donald Trump apparently wanted to try to change the media narrative about his behavior.

So he decided to essentially threaten nuclear war with North Korea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had already noted that the potential use of nuclear weapons would be, frighteningly, up to Trump alone.

"That will be the president's decision," Tillerson said, when asked if the United States would have to act if North Korea followed through on its threat to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

And on Twitter — of course — Trump flat-out told Tillerson to stop doing his job, nix any efforts at diplomacy, and to let  Trump have his horribly dangerous way.

Apparently, the State Department is on board, as spokeswoman Heather Nauert tweeted ominously, "Diplomatic channels are open for #KimJongUn for now. They won't be open forever."

Hours later, Trump was back on his phone, insulting the efforts of his predecessors and pre-emptively bragging about his ability to somehow solve the problem himself:

The childish name-calling and pompous declarations offer absolutely nothing in the way of reassurance to the world.

In fact, they do quite the opposite, as Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, noted tersely:

Painter was not alone in his assessment; numerous others who have infinitely greater knowledge on the topic than Trump could ever hope to have also expressed grave concern and massive doubt about Trump's tactics, and the untold harm they could bring to the whole planet.

Former Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren was aghast at Trump's tweets, noting, "What a way to run foreign policy. What a way to run international affairs." He further suggested to Trump, "Maybe pick up the phone and call the secretary of state" to talk through such a serious subject.

Intelligence expert Malcolm Nance was even more direct: "This is tantamount to a threat of nuclear war."

Trump has always has an absurd degree of confidence in his own abilities. His campaign promise that "I alone can fix it" — "it" being basically whatever his fans were angry about — has predictably proven to be total garbage.

The idea that he can solve an enigmatic crisis like a rogue nation led by a dictator living in his own version of reality — one he brainwashes his people into believing is the only true version — through nothing but bluster, threats, and name-calling is preposterous.

What Trump can do, however, is blunder his way into a nuclear war, and drag the entire world along behind him.

In that sense, his promise that he "won't fail" feels more like a threat not to Kim Jong Un, but to everyone else watching.