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If you're a resident of planet Earth, chances are you've caught wind of the trouble brewing between US President Donald Trump, and current North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Relations between the US and North Korea have never been exactly cordial, but since the States began efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation within the smaller nation in the late 1980s, tension has continued to steadily rise. In recent days, addresses given both by Trump and Kim have sent a fairly even mixture of worry and face-palming rippling through the masses.
Although the matter is of a very serious nature, and how the US and allied countries should proceed in handling the threats issued by North Korea and its government is under scrupulous debate, many have taken to social media to mock the two leaders' exchange.
To be fair, the men have given Twitter a veritable cornucopia of material to work with, Trump not only sending scathing tweets Kim's way and referring to him as "Rocket Man," in response to his threats of nuclear action against the US, but going so far as to use the condescending title in an official speech earlier this week at the United Nations General Assembly.
For his part, Kim Jong-un returned with a volley of insults, the public's unanimous favorite being, "dotard," a seldom used term that refers to a "state of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness."
#Dotard is swirling across newsfeeds Twitter-wide with the same quick-spreading ferocity of Trump's not-soon-to-be-forgotten mystery tweet "Covfefe." The sheer strangeness of two world leaders engaging in what seems to many to be such a petty war of words has brought a touch of humor into an otherwise solemn situation.
Among the endless flow of hilariously creative memes and tweets however, it is important to remember that these two individuals stand at the helms of nations. While many of their statements can be cut and pasted into bits of satire and light jokes, the overall meaning of their words should not be overlooked.
For the better part of the last 30 years, America has struggled to manage the growth of nuclear power in North Korea peacefully, imposing sanction after sanction only to be met with continued contempt and refusal to cooperate with requests of denuclearization. While it's a popular opinion in the US that the government should simply "stomp out" the Asian nation in question, there are a multitude of incredibly complicated issues to consider, not the least of which being loss of human life. A war with North Korea is not something that would be purely beneficial for anyone, and while Kim Jong-un has been labeled as a madman by the public, he is still the figurehead of a country currently gathering arms and holding court over thousands of people.
It's true that America's military strength far outweighs that of North Korea, but political relations aren't so simple as just crushing whatever country gets in your way. While the US is taking threats of nuclear action incredibly seriously, and by all accounts will react with force if necessary, it's essential to remember that there are a variety of other diplomatic ties tangled within the wadded web that is North Korea.
China, historically a defender of North Korea, has been growing steadily stronger for decades. Long-term trends stemming from competition between US and China point to Japan and South Korea eventually having to choose sides between the industrial giants, and issues with North Korea only put more stress on Eastern alliances.
The longer that Kim Jong-un is allowed to manufacture and develop arms, the greater his leverage grows. The US has a history of attempting to cut deals with North Korea to avoid violent exchanges, and it's safe to say the smaller nation is very aware of this. Many past White House staffers believe that may be the precise goal of Kim's regime: stir up as much doubt and fear as possible, until the US is forced to make a deal with the country to avoid greater diplomatic troubles.
It's fairly safe to say that North Korea won't agree to denuclearization without a serious fight; America's past deal with Muammar al-Qaddafi to surrender his arms resulted in the current state of Libya, and when Saddam Hussein stopped developing weapons, the US orchestrated a regime change. While they were certainly unsavory characters and US actions aren't necessarily condemned, it's easy to see where North Korea would fear a similar outcome were they to cede power.
The world is monitoring the situation with rapt attention, opinions flying left and right and an oily uncertainty spreading through the population as tensions continue to climb. Trump has issued statements communicating his intent to sign an executive order sanctioning individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with what he labeled a "criminal rogue regime," and earlier this month the United Nations Security Council passed harsh sanctions targeting North Korea that ban 90 percent of its exports. The sanctions were approved by both Russia and China despite past ties keeping them closer to North Korea.
Actions to prevent war or military movement are being taken by most of the nations involved in the messy debates, and it's a widely held hope that the situation can be resolved without the use of force; peace is, as always, the ultimate goal of the greater majority.
But with the volatile nature of the comments coming from both sides of the board, it's difficult not to worry that perhaps after decades of wear, relations have finally reached their breaking point.