President Donald Trump, who has spent most of this weekend using Twitter to bully beleaguered Puerto Rican authorities in the middle of the post-Hurricane Maria humanitarian crisis, cannot stop mashing that shitty tweet button.
On Sunday morning, Trump abruptly announced on Twitter “our wonderful Secretary of State” Rex Tillerson is “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un over North Korea’s nuclear program, directing him to “save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
On Saturday, Tillerson had alluded to several remaining channels of communication between the US and North Korea, saying he had asked them, “Would you like to talk?”
Given that Trump is about as subtle as a plague corpse hurled over a city wall, “what has to be done” cannot be read as anything but yet another threat of military action. The president has been threatening to wipe North Korea off the map for weeks—and Tillerson himself has had his share of negotiations-are-over bluster—but this particular tweet is notable as a public dig against his own secretary of state for ostensibly trying to avert a horrifying war between some of the most heavily armed militaries on the planet.
Such a war between North Korea and US-backed South Korea could rapidly turn into a major regional conflict or potentially even World War III, and even a non-nuclear war could result in tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths among combatants and civilians on either side of the firing line. It’s basically a fool’s errand to determine what’s going on in Trump’s head that he keeps on trying to make that happen, but we’re all going to have to live in a world shaped by the consequences of his actions. That includes Tillerson, who may well decide he’s had enough and follow dozens of other officials out the door.
Update 3:35pm ET: The president has continued to tweet about North Korea, offering a terrifying look into his inner monologue on the subject of destroying Kim Jong Un’s regime.
“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?” Trump tweeted. “Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed.”
“I won’t fail,” he concluded.
You know, famous last words and all that.