The world’s attention was taken this week by the televised spectacle of the Statler and Waldorf tribute act that was the Presidential debate.
Trump and Biden ably demonstrated the old adage about comedy acts – that they are based on the principle that both are idiots but one is a bigger idiot trying harder not to show it.
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Donald Trump squared off with Joe Biden in the first presidential debate[/caption]
Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden told Trump to ‘shut up’[/caption]
Your decision as to which is which decides your allegiance.
But while those punch-drunk debaters wasted everyone’s time, something far more significant was emerging this week – and the decision of American voters in November will tell us which candidate will have to deal with it.
North Korea is, by most definitions, a rogue state, a totalitarian country that breaches the human rights of its own citizens and threatens peace beyond its own borders.
North Korea ticks all those boxes disdainfully – and is led by the man-child that is Kim Jong-un, a leader whose periodic disappearances raises as much hope as alarm and who is not exactly constrained by the logic of a ballot box.
The world’s view of North Korea has largely been a kind of wary amusement, the mysterious place led the chunky chap with the funny haircut who keeps firing missiles into the sea.
It’s how a teacher views a schoolboy with a catapult – mischievous rather than dangerous. But now the schoolboy has got a gun.
A United Nations report his week declared that North Korea has successfully ‘miniaturised’ its nuclear weapons to make them small enough to be carried by the ballistic missiles it continues to launch in defiance of international sanctions – sanctions it also dodges through smuggling coal and art and the earnings of its overseas workers, amongst other ingenuities.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will be a looming threat[/caption]
Biden V Trump was an ugly show-down, say commentators after their first TV debate[/caption]
Tiny nuclear weapons? Is that bad? Well if they fit onto missile technology which are already demonstrated of being capable of travelling intercontinental distances… then yes.
North Korea, the UN tells us, is likely to have weaponry which can reach the US mainland.
Nuclear testing sites which were supposed to have been destroyed in 2018 can be in operation inside three months. This has the potential to be knife-edge stuff.
So, if you can bear it, watch the highlights of the US debate again and try to work out which of the childish squabblers would be best equipped to deal with the sort of leader who put the headless body of his executed uncle on display.
Trump has claimed to have got the measure of Kim, but has had no effect on the way the country has increased its military might and avoided the sanctions.
Biden was visibly exasperated by Trump’s tactics this week, finding it
difficult to cope with someone playing by a different set of rules.
There’s no reason to suggest he’d do any better with another leader with the same approach to constructive argument.
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But someone has to deal with it, they can’t sit back and hope the Chinese reins it all in.
A North Korea launching missiles into who-knows-where is worrying but a sideshow.
A rogue state with nuclear weapons that can hit cities in the US? Well, we’re going to need a grown-up to deal with that.
Jimmy Leach is a consultant who has had real jobs, including head of digital communications for two Prime Ministers and head of digital diplomacy at the Foreign Office. He has also had senior roles at The Guardian, Independent and HuffPost UK