Obama Defense Secretary: Trump's Unpredictability Good; Tough Talk, Tweets Work


It’s no secret that President Donald Trump likes being bombastic on social media — but if you listen to the mainstream media, his tweeting brought us one typo away from nuclear war.

Trump has been routinely mocked by the left for tough talk on Twitter, especially his callouts of North Korean leader Kim “Rocketman” Jong Un. The hand-wringing and hysteria reached a fever pitch when the president reminded Kim that the U.S. has a “Nuclear Button,” with liberals losing their collective minds.

“Deleting Twitter from my phone. I want to be blissfully unaware of the nuclear apocalypse when I’m away from my computer,” shrieked Verge journalist Rachel Becker.

“It’s rather alarming to watch, and the president is not well,” worried New York Times contributor Peter Wehner, which is likely pronounced “whiner.”

Berkeley professor and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich called Trump a “madman” for his North Korea tweets, and feared “the destruction of the world in just over four minutes.”

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But Kim Jong Un has now, incredibly, promised to dismantle his regime’s nuclear weapons program completely and is involved in historic peace talks with South Korea and American diplomats.

Could it possibly be that Trump actually knew what he was doing? Amazingly, former President Barack Obama’s former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates thinks so.

On Sunday, the well-respected defense expert admitted that Trump’s tweets and strong words on North Korea may have played a crucial role in bringing on peaceful change.

“I think the president’s tough talk and the willingness of the Chinese and the Russians to agree to the toughest sanctions we’ve ever really applied to North Korea certainly increased the pressure on the North Koreans to come to the table,” Gates said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Does Trump deserve credit for the Korean de-escalation?

If you listen to the left-leaning media, Trump is unhinged and chaotic, perhaps even mentally ill. But Gates believes Trump’s “unpredictability” may have been an advantage in getting Kim to come sit at the peace table.

“I think that the unpredictability in terms of some of the tweets and some of the tough talk did get the attention of the North Koreans and the Chinese as well — in terms of fire and fury and so on,” he said.

Think about it: The president’s catch phrases like “fire and fury” were used by the left to mock him, with a famous anti-Trump book even borrowing those words as its title. And yet, the same tough talk is now being credited with helping defuse the decades-long hostilities in Korea.

It turns out that a bit of “cowboy diplomacy” might not be such a terrible tactic after all.

“You know, my view is generally that tactical unpredictability is good and an asset,” Gates said.

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In other words, when negotiating with thugs who understand and respect power, it’s useful to take a posture of strength and even unpredictability. Trump convinced everybody that he was willing to take the fight to Kim, and — who’d have guessed? — the Korean leader started believing it.

Not knowing what the U.S. would do next was a frightening prospect to North Korea, and when an alternative to a confrontation appeared, they took it.

It was classic negotiation, Trump style.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.