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Brooks: Using Madman Theory With North Korea ‘Very Dangerous’ Because ‘Both People Could Actually Be Crazy’

On Friday’s “PBS NewsHour,” New York Times columnist David Brooks commented on President Trump’s statements about North Korea by saying it’s possible the president believes in the madman theory, but that such a theory is dangerous in a situation both leaders could be crazy.

Brooks said, “Listen, there’s been a consensus about how to deal with this extremely knotty problem. And that is, at least on the rhetorical level, the North Korean regime is extremely fiery, extremely insecure, sometimes hysterical. And when you’re around somebody who’s screaming and unstable, the last thing you want to do is add to the instability with your own unstable, hysterical rhetoric. And so, most administrations, Republican and Democrats, when the North Koreans say they’re going to Seoul into a lake of fire, whatever their rhetoric is, have just ignored it, and relied on some underlying sense that the North Koreans don’t want to commit national suicide. Donald Trump has gone the other way. Now, I think that’s still — that sense that neither party wants to go into a war is still there. But the psychological probabilities that you’re going to enter into some August 1914 miscalculation certainly go up when both people are screaming at the top of their lungs.”

He later added that Trump could believe deterring North Korea isn’t possible, is just blundering, or is employing the the madman theory. He continued, “The madman theory is that you can be a successful deterrer if you — if they think you could be crazy. And so, I think it can be very effective, so long as you’re not actually crazy. And so, we have a North Korean, we’re not really sure. We have a president who has his moments. And so the madman theory, when both people could actually be crazy, is actually a very dangerous situation.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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