Trump’s megaphone vs. North Korea’s gunboat diplomacy

US President Donald Trump’s ongoing altercation with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un is, in an international communication context, ‘a normal conversation’ between two countries; in fact, it is a contest between megaphone and gunboat diplomacy.

Gunboat diplomacy is a foreign policy approach where a country uses threats of military force to protect its interests or to pursue its international relations strategic objectives against other actors.

The term’s origin is linked to 19th century international politics where imperial Europe would bully lesser powers into granting concessions against their own interest; United States in particular, has in the past, pursued this approach especially on African countries.

Megaphone diplomacy, on the other hand is a foreign policy practice where one actor takes to international media, to issue strong and threatening statements in order to force the other party into adopting a desired position.

The United Nations is a leading user of the megaphone especially whenever it has to condemn or warn against international situations involving violent conflict.

In fact it appears the UN has levels of condemnation, warnings and concern where it variously uses special terms to express itself on situations around the world.

There is a long list of UN condemnations and warnings against different situations around the world, including on Rwanda. Unfortunately or fortunately, UN statements of warning, concern and condemnation have always ended at that; semantic antics in global media.

Clever press releases penned by highly skilled and experienced communication experts, written in strong language and calculated threats circulated as news by global media channels and filed as official response on a situation, in UN archives. Job done!

For instance, on April 21, 1994 the UN issued a statement ‘condemning violence in Rwanda.’ On May 17, 1994, another UN statement was released; ‘further condemnation of violence in Rwanda.’ On June 8, 1994 with over a million Tutsis already killed, another statement was issued expressing; ‘UN concern over reports that acts of genocide may have occurred in Rwanda.”

We all know today, that those statements never amounted to any serious intervention that could have either averted the situation or saved over a million lost in the 100-day massacre of the Tutsi.

In regards to the North Korean standoff with USA, megaphone diplomacy experts have already raised the seriousness of the matter to the level of ‘a crisis that at worst threatens a nuclear war.’ But we have been here before, haven’t we?

Since the division of the Korean Peninsula after the 2nd world war, North Korea has been isolated from the international stage, mainly because of stubbornly sticking to its communist political system, this, squarely shaping it as a foe of the imperialist west.

North Korea is therefore a permanently suspicious and insecure country whose constant fear of an impending attack from the west has pushed it to adopt a gunboat diplomacy approach to protect its territory against western sponsored hostility.

Like a kid cowering before a giant enemy, North Korea keeps wielding dangerous weapons, threatening and hoping to keep the attacker at bay. Hopefully, North Korea is not, by any chance planning to attack another country for territorial gain.

The only reason for piling up weapons and displaying their deadliness through regular missile testing is to show that it will be willing to throw anything at the attacker whenever its territory is invaded. This strategy one can say, has hitherto worked for North Korea.

Instead of the US raiding North Korea and toppling its current government to install a friendly administration as it has done elsewhere previously, American Commanders in Chief have all previously backed off from such an approach, instead issuing stern warnings but keeping a safe distance.

But in President Trump, we seem to have finally got an American President who is willing go into a confrontation with the North Korean leadership.

Trump, knowing that everyone knows how heavily armed USA is, has resorted to megaphone diplomacy, posting tough tweets and issuing threats in the mainstream media, hoping to cow North Korea into abandoning its weapons’ program.

In my view, North Korea is not ‘begging for war’ as Nikki Haley,America’s Ambassador to UN argued in his commentary three days ago. However, I think the North Korean Commander In Chief is mad enough to go to war with USA, even if the solitary nation would clearly lose.

So if North Korea doesn’t mind going to war, it would be prudent for the US leader to act reasonable and avoid a violent clash; the only challenge is, in Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the world has two crazy men as Commanders in Chief of two heavily armed countries.

One man likes to fire missiles for leisure and pleasure. The other likes to experiment and show off to the world how tough he is and he recently exploded the ‘Mother of All Bombs.’

Clearly, there is a good chance that the current standoff between Trump’s megaphone and North Korea’s gunboat diplomacy could fast escalate into a fully blown conflict; I want to be wrong.