Donald Trump has done everything possible to deflect from the Trump/Russia collusion story that threatens the perception of the legitimacy of his presidential win. Attacking members of his own political party, announcing a ban on transgender military members, and pointing every finger he can find at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has, so far, failed to drown out news of his campaign officials’ meetings with Russians, FBI raids on his campaign manager’s home, and mounting evidence that the collusion story is anything but a “nothingburger.”
What has worked to divert attention recently has been Trump’s public statements threatening nuclear war with North Korea. From his “fire and fury” comments that evoke a Game of Thrones episode to the “locked and loaded” rhetoric sure to excite his gun-loving supporters, the news cycle quickly shifted from Russian collusion to utter terror at the idea of a former reality game show host with access to nuclear codes.
Just how credible are those threats, though? Is it possible that Trump is simply posturing for the media in order to deflect attention knowing all along that his threats against North Korea are utterly baseless? A new report from The Associated Press may suggest that it is.
‘Beyond the bluster, the Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, addressing Americans imprisoned in the communist country and deteriorating relations between the long-time foes, The Associated Press has learned.
‘It had been known the two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student. But it wasn’t known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than U.S. detainees.’
When asked on Friday about possible back-channel diplomacy occurring between U.S. officials and North Korea, Trump refused to answer.
‘We don’t want to talk about progress, we don’t want to talk about back channels.’
Cooler heads, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have warned Trump that military action would be futile. Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed, saying that “the relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean peninsula.” Despite that advice, Trump has continued to escalate his frightening, tough-guy threats to cheers from his supporters.
The reasons why, however, may have far more to do with manipulating a news cycle than any real desire to initiate war against North Korea. While tensions definitely exist between Kim Jong Un’s regime and the U.S., as well as many other countries, it seems that diplomacy is still preferred method of deescalating the situation while Trump makes his frightening threats in front of all cameras pointed his way. Why else would a president who seems to truly abhor and fear press conferences in which he may have to answer tough questions suddenly giving long and detailed ones on this particular news story?
It seems that, despite appearances to the contrary, Trump has far more of a desire to play the American public by manipulating the news cycle than to use military action against North Korea.
Featured image via Getty/Nicholas Kamm