Nuclear Button Bluster Aside, Trump’s Intervention Impulses Can Be Curbed

Perhaps none of President Trump’s tweets have had more power to shock than his declaration that his “nuclear button” is “much bigger” than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear button—”and my Button works!”

The one strange solace of the situation, as The New York TimesRoss Douthat and National Review‘s David French noted, is how few people take Trump’s bombast seriously. The “main effects of Trump’s tweets,” French argued, “are to stoke the online outrage machine, impair his credibility, and to unsettle a certain number of well-meaning Americans.”

True enough. As bizarre as it is to imagine from the vantage point of even a year ago, no one is marching in the streets over the president of the United States issuing Freudian threats of nuclear war on social media.

It is possible Trump’s “verbal aggressiveness” on Jan. 2 could lead to the devastation of total war, as a Yale psychologist recently warned, but it is more plausible his military aggressiveness would accomplish that unwanted end. And while there seems to be no means to tame Trump’s tongue, we do have the means to tame his interventionism, if only we will use them.

Consider that while South Korea launched its first official negotiations with its northern neighbors in two years, an effort to ease tensions and “move toward

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