Senior aides to President Trump repeatedly warned him not to deliver a personal attack on North Korea’s leader at the United Nations this week, saying insulting the young despot in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions and shut off any chance for negotiations to defuse the nuclear crisis.
.. Some of Trump’s top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, had argued for months against making the attacks on North Korea’s leader personal, warning it could backfire.
But Trump, who relishes belittling his rivals and enemies with crude nicknames, felt compelled to make a dramatic splash in the global forum.
.. A detailed CIA psychological profile of Kim, who is in his early 30s and took power in late 2011, assesses that Kim has a massive ego and reacts harshly and sometimes lethally to insults and perceived slights.
It also says that the dynastic leader — Kim is the grandson of the communist country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, and son of its next leader, Kim Jong Il — views himself as inseparable from the North Korean state.
.. As predicted, Kim took Trump’s jibes personally and especially chafed at the fact that Trump mocked him in front of 200 presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and diplomats at the U.N... John Park, a specialist on Northeast Asia at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said the tit-for-tat insults have created a “new reality” and probably have shut off any chance of starting talks to curb North Korea’s fast-growing nuclear arms program... U.S. experts assess that North Korea is six to eight months away from building a small nuclear warhead robust enough to survive the intense heat and vibrations of an intercontinental ballistic missile crossing the Pacific and reaching the continental United States... “There is no one on the North Korean side who is going to entertain or pursue discussion about a diplomatic off-ramp, because that individual would be contradicting the leader, which is lethal,” Park said... Trump has returned to rhetoric he’d used during the campaign, when he called Kim a “madman playing around with nukes” and a “total nut job.”.. But Trump also praised Kim at the time, saying during a Fox News interview last year that Kim’s “gotta have something going for him, because he kept control, which is amazing for a young person to do.”