Is Kim Jong-un a better world leader than Donald Trump?
Inconvenient truths emerge when comparing the conduct, track records and achievements of the belligerent leaders of North Korea and the United States
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can end up annihilating me because they’re coming from the mouths of two rutting custodians of nuclear power who may well bomb us all into oblivion.
The simian-level faeces flinging on the international stage could be amusing, were it not for the fact that their rhetorical threats to wipe each other off the map could actually precipitate a thermonuclear end to the human race.
First we had Trump’s unprecedented and shockingly unpresidential speech at the United Nations this week.
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission,” he said, introducing a nickname to mock Kim’s nuclear missile fetish, and threatening to “totally destroy North Korea”.
Kim took it seriously enough to deliver a direct reply, speaking to the world like no North Korean leader had done before.
“Far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors,” he said. “A frightened dog barks louder.”
Then, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.”
Trump, after probably being briefed on the meaning of the word “dotard”, responded with a cheery tweet: “Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”
I can’t quite decide what’s more frightening: the fact that Trump suddenly dropped the “Rocket Man” nickname, or the North Koreans warning they may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean next. Boom.
Did anyone notice, though, that Kim’s diatribe came across as more statesmanlike than Trump’s, homicidal despot or not. It calls for a comparison that would have been unthinkable before Trump came along and made anything possible.
If you want to look at blood on their hands, Kim is said to have executed more than 340 people since he came to power in 2011.
Compare it with estimates that, up to July, more than 2,200 civilians had been killed by US-led forces going after Islamic State since Trump stomped into the White House in January.
The tally was some 80 civilian deaths per month in air strikes under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Under Trump, it’s now risen to 360 per month.
We’ve all heard the horror stories from North Korea and I don’t dispute them, but let’s take a look at a couple of tales that haven’t been told widely enough.
We reported this week that China’s exports of chocolate and alcohol to North Korea surged in the first two quarters of the year, seen as indicating that the economy of the hermit kingdom might be doing much better than expected and portrayed.
Last year it posted its strongest economic growth in 17 years, riding on reforms launched by Kim, even if per capita gross national income was only about 5 per cent of South Korea’s.
We also reported this week that North Korea appears to have emerged almost unscathed from its worst drought in nearly two decades in a sign of massively improved agricultural capability, according to Chinese scientists.
In comparison, what has Trump really achieved since he took office? Be honest.
I’m not glorifying a grotesque tyrant; I’m just saying if we were to measure him up with the purported leader of the free world, mano-a-mano, pound for pound, no pun intended, Kim could well emerge the bigger achiever of the two.
I know, right? What an awful thought.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post