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Must Trump always divide us?

E.J. Dionne Jr. on

"My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before. ...

"... Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!"

Here, alas, is Trump in a nutshell: It's all about him (as if he has radically changed our nuclear posture in just over six months in office) and base-pleasing swagger (we'll always be No. 1!).

But nobody doubts our country's military power. It's wisdom the world is looking for.

In the meantime, our nation's diplomats scramble to control the damage. Thus did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explain to reporters on Wednesday: "What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language."

But do we really want an American president stooping to Kim's rhetorical level?

Perhaps, following Richard Nixon's "madman theory" of foreign relations, Trump hopes to use the menace of irrational action to scare Kim into backing down and to scare China into pushing him to do so. But it's a high-risk game.

And at a moment when Americans would prefer to stand together and support Trump in the face of this grave peril, the president has, once again, done all he could to divide us -- and to remind his critics why they find his approach so appalling.

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E.J. Dionne's email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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