EDITORIAL:

By stooping to N. Korea’s level, Trump proves he’s a risk to the world

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Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump talks about North Korea during a briefing on the opioid crisis, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

Wed, Aug 9, 2017 (2 a.m.)

Just hours after the release of a CBS News poll showing that 56 percent of Americans lack confidence in President Donald Trump’s ability to handle North Korea, Trump provided alarming evidence today that their concerns were well-founded.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. … They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., where he’s taking a working vacation.

Trump’s comment came after a report that North Korea had succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to fit into its missiles, and followed a threat by North Korea that it would take “physical action” in response to new UN sanctions.

By responding in kind, Trump showed he was dangerously incompetent in addressing U.S.-North Korea tensions.

In a situation that screamed for a measured, deliberate response, Trump instead chose to stoop to Kim’s level and up the ante. Predictably, North Korea played right along, turning up the heat a notch by threatening to launch a pre-emptive strike on Guam.

The exchange came off as a deranged version of an after-school playground fight, which might have been funny in other circumstances but was shocking considering that nukes were involved.

Suddenly, jokes about a nuclear war hanging in the balance between two madmen with bad hairstyles became chilling.

If it’s true that North Korea has managed to miniaturize a bomb, the ramifications of that development are horrifying. Never mind the missile threat; if North Korea has figured out how to place a device in a small package, it could potentially create a briefcase bomb that would allow it to strike virtually anywhere through attacks by its operatives or by slipping a portable nuclear weapon to a terrorist.

So as never before, it’s imperative for Washington to react cautiously and with extreme precision. Every word counts. And “fire and fury … the likes of which this world has never seen before,” accomplishes nothing but to ratchet up the tension and inch closer to a catastrophe.

Even if Trump has decided to adopt a “madman”-type foreign policy stance that will make potential enemies fearful of a U.S. response, that approach makes no sense with North Korea. The regime there is well aware that an attack on the U.S. or its allies likely would trigger its own destruction.

By all appearances, then, this is nothing even close to a formulated strategy; rather, it appears to be a moment of compulsive, lunatic behavior by Trump. It’s the latest of many, unfortunately, which have created growing concern that Trump is mentally unfit for the presidency.

Enough. Trump has absolutely no understanding of the world around him, domestically or internationally. It’s a dangerous stupidity that puts the world at risk.

Sober leaders in Washington and Congress need to begin actively working to contain this potentially cataclysmic presidency.

During Trump’s appearance today — speaking slowly, hugging his chest as if frightened — proved he is a very active risk to the world.

Millions of people in Seoul and beyond are depending on stable, wise leadership in the U.S.

Trump has given us no reason to believe he can provide this.

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