President Donald Trump offered a bit of praise Saturday to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“Obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” the president said in an interview with CBS News’ John Dickerson on “Face the Nation.” Trump previously called the young North Korean despot a “maniac,” a “madman playing with nukes,” a “total nut job.” At the same time, there appears to be a certain degree of admiration.
“Is he sane? I have no idea,” Trump explained, adding, “I can tell you this … he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away … He was able to do it.”
Trump’s comments echo statements made in a recent interview with Reuters.
“I’m just saying that’s a very hard thing to do … As to whether or not he’s rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he’s rational,” the president told reporters.
Trump has praised Kim Jong Un on multiple occasions. “You have got to give him credit: How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals and all of a sudden, you know, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it. How does he do that?” Trump said in January 2016, “He takes over, he’s the boss. It’s incredible.”
“You know, you would have thought that these tough generals would have said no way this is gonna happen when the father died. So he’s gotta have something going for him, because he kept control, which is amazing for a young person to do,” the president explained then on Fox News’ “On the Record.”
Trump’s comments appear to reflect a kind of respect for the man Arizona Senator John McCain called a “crazy fat kid.”
Nonetheless, the president is firmly committed to addressing the threat of North Korea’s rapidly-developing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The North has launched nine missiles since Trump took office, and there are concerns that the reclusive regime may soon test an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Several North Korean missiles tested this month have failed, prompting some to question whether the U.S. is involved. “I’d rather not discuss it,” Trump told Dickerson, “But, perhaps they’re just not very good missiles. But eventually, he’ll have good missiles.”
“Eventually, he will have a better delivery system. And if that happens, we can’t allow it to happen,” the president explained.
Trump did not rule out the possibility of military action, but, for the time being, the focus is on pressuring Beijing to rein in Pyongyang. The president stated that he is willing make certain sacrifices on trade for assistance on North Korea.
“Frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade. Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade,” he said, “If I can use trade as a method to get China, because I happen to think that China does have reasonably good powers over North Korea … that’s worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States.”
The North Korea problem is one which has baffled world leaders for several decades.
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