Friday, August 4, 2017

Trump — And the Use and Abuse of Madness

Fiery and unpredictable rhetoric can be a powerful strategic tool, but only if it’s not habitual.
Occasionally insanity, real or feigned, has its political advantages — largely because of its ancillary traits of unpredictability and an aura of immunity from appeals to reason, sobriety, and moderation.
Rogues often try to appear as crazy as mad hatters — sometimes defined by issuing threats, throwing temper tantrums, saying outrageous things, dressing weirdly, or acting peculiarly.
In nuclear poker, the House of Kim in North Korea has welded its supposed hereditary madness to nuclear weapons — to achieve both deterrence and periodic shakedowns of massive foreign aid.
Turkish president Recep Erdogan is also a touchy nut. He usually wins an unearned wide berth and political concessions from the West by his offensive habits of saying anything to anyone at any time — in between episodic threats to the West to yank NATO troops out of Turkey, to send along even more Middle Eastern young males from war-torn states into the heart of Europe, or to demagogue Muslim tensions with Israel.
Even democratic leaders occasionally adopt the mask of madness for diplomatic and political advantage.
John F. Kennedy, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, openly sought advice from the caricatured Strangelovian (but actually authentic hero) General Curtis LeMay. To his advisers and adversaries, the brinksman Kennedy could pose as receiving wisdom from LeMay — who less than two decades earlier had burned down Tokyo — to ponder a chilling solution.
Read the rest from Victor Davis Hanson HERE.

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