To say that the President-elect is unlike any other leader the United States has ever had is an understatement. His use of social media tool Twitter continues to make that painfully clear. Trump’s latest tweet sounding alarm bells was directed at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, in response to the dictator’s New Year’s address. In Jong-un’s address, a claim was made that North Korea was in the final stage of preparations for the ability to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The President-elect tweeted dismissively and threateningly, saying “It won’t happen!”
According to experts, this may well be true, since most experts believe that North Korea is still years away from their purported goal. These experts believe North Korea’s regular accounts of nuclear testing are merely a form of propaganda with the intention of making themselves look strong and scaring the rest of the world. This point of view would have been made clear to Trump in the security briefings he continues to avoid.
Exactly what Trump meant by his tweet remains unclear, and requests for clarification have been ignored. It could have just been a dismissive retort, but it also could have been a threat. Either way, it probably wasn’t a wise decision. That the President-elect continues to use Twitter for such uncounseled, rapid-fire responses to very serious issues is troubling. In this case, Trump doubled down and proceeded to also call out China for not helping the U.S. with North Korea in a second tweet. There is already precedent for a Trump tweet sparking an international incident, after China seized a U.S. surveillance drone in response to Trump tweeting tirade in December.
Trump has already promised that he will “absolutely” continue Tweeting when he officially takes office. The way he has used the micro-blogging platform so far makes that promise quite concerning. Publicly antagonizing powerful countries like North Korea and China, and even threatening them, could have very serious consequences.