A state-controlled newspaper in North Korea lashed out at President Donald Trump in an editorial published on Thursday, calling him a “psychopath,” according to the Washington Post. The editorial alleged Trump is considering launching a preemptive strike against North Korea to divert attention from domestic political problems.
Pyongyang’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, also warned U.S. ally South Korea that following “psychopath” Trump’s lead “will only lead to disaster.” The editorial argued that an effort by Trump to divert attention from his domestic political problems by launching a preemptive strike against North Korea would follow in the footsteps of previous U.S. presidents who, according to the editorial, had also tried to escalate tensions and foment confrontation abroad as a way of distracting attention from political crisis at home.
Citing examples, the newspaper claimed that President Harry Truman started the Korean War in 1950 to divert attention from economic problems at home, while President Bill Clinton attacked Iraq in 1998 to divert attention from an ongoing investigation of his sex scandal.
The escalation of rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington follows the death of 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier, who the North Korean authorities returned to the U.S. last week in a comatose state. He had suffered severe neurological injury after spending 17 months in a North Korean prison. He was serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly trying to steal a government propaganda poster. He died a few days after the North Korean authorities returned him to the U.S. last week. During the period that Warmbier was held in detention, the North Korean authorities kept the U.S. authorities and his family in the dark about his whereabouts and condition. But U.S. officials learned after his return that he had been in a state of coma for weeks before he was returned to the U.S.
Warmbier’s death further heightened tensions between North Korea and the U.S. over Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program. The U.S. is concerned about the rapid progress of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program due to fears that the country could soon acquire the capability to hit the U.S. with nuclear capable missiles. Trump had tried to convince the Chinese, North Korea’s major ally, to help rein in the regime’s nuclear and missile program. But in a recent tweet, Trump appeared to conclude that although China has tried, its efforts have not yielded the desired results. However, it was uncertain whether his comment meant that he had given up on China and was planning to seek a unilateral solution.
Analysts noted that although he had previously expressed hope that the tensions with North Korea would be solved diplomatically, Trump escalated the tone of hostile rhetoric after Otto Warmbier died. He condemned the North Korean regime, describing it as “brutal,” and said that his administration was determined to “prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”
However, analysts noted that Pyongyang’s use of inflammatory rhetoric against a U.S. president was not unusual. The regime described President Barack Obama as a monkey after the release of The Interview, a 2014 Hollywood movie that mocked Kim Jong Un.
[Featured Image by Wong Maye-E/AP Photo]