Trump’s 1999 interview on North Korea is horrifying in its ignorant self-confidence


If you want to assess just how muddled Donald Trump’s thinking on North Korea is, google “Tim Russert interview 1999”.

Mr Trump, then just a private citizen, pompously and cheerfully talks about a pre-emptive strike against North Korea, denounces America’s “soft” representatives such as Jimmy Carter. He asserts that “they (the North Koreans presumably) are “laughing at us”. And he recommends strong and decisive action “now”.

Some of the above – the idiom, phraseology and mindset – has become known to the world in the months since Mr Trump dizzyingly rose to high office.

But the most fearful aspect of the interview is Mr Trump’s rejection of expert opinion. Tim Russert quotes two people – a former general of the airforce and a former secretary of defence – to recommend against a preventive strike because the consequences for the Korean Peninsula would be too horrible to contemplate. But Mr Trump is dismissive. “You’re giving me two names,” he says, in an indication that he would prefer to seek more opinions till he finds one he likes.