Belfast Telegraph

The last thing our wound-up world needs right now is a bad hair day showdown between trigger-happy Trump and Kim

By Lindy McDowell

The Cold War could be hotting up again. Although this time not between America and Russia. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, as we know, seem to be getting along even better these days than Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield.

The next major global difficulty could be America v North Korea. Or Donald Trump v North Korea, which, given the fact that he now has access to the nuclear codes, is much the same thing.

Mr Trump has in recent days served notice that if China doesn't sort Pyongyang, he will.

He's hard, is Donald.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he declared: "China has great influence over North Korea, and China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won't. And if they do, that will be very good for China. If they don't, it won't be good for anyone."

There's fighting talk.

The sort of fighting talk, unfortunately, that doesn't just send a strong message to the Chinese, but also sends an inflammatory message to the chubby and volatile man who now controls the warhead launchpad button in Pyongyang.

And since the US President is squaring up to the one world leader who is even nuttier than himself, I believe we should all sit up and take notice.

Not least because any high-grade weaponry that this pair of boys choose to fire at each other may be passing over our heads. Or, bearing in mind North Korea's record of misfiring missiles and of rockets falling short of their target, quite possibly landing on our heads.

Of course Trump may not intend it ever to come to that.

Asked by the reporter how he would deal with North Korea, he replied - helpfully - "I'm not telling you".

Maybe he's planning another wall. The Great Wall of Korea.

But here's the big problem...

Kim Jong Un doesn't just share a penchant for dodgy haircuts with Trump (in his case, a sort of severe Peaky Blinders), he also shares an outsize ego and a thin-skinned temper.

This is a man who has reportedly had critics (including relatives) quite literally obliterated by firing missiles at them.

You wouldn't want to cross him at a family wedding.

So no, I don't think global leaders should be turning a blind eye to this madman.

But I'm not sure Trump-style grandstanding is the right way of dealing with him either.

Yet grandstanding is becoming a bit of a global trend right now. If it's not Trump talking tough in Washington it's former Tory leader, now Lord Howard, apparently suggesting the UK goes to war with Spain over Gibraltar.

There's a difference between the importance of standing firm on Gibraltar's right to remain British and invoking the prospect of an invasion of Benidorm ("We will fight them on the beaches...").

At least the troops will be sure of a full English breakfast when they land.

The Brexiteers and the Remainers are at each other's throats. The Scots Nats appear to be a tugboat short of declaring war on Westminster.

The entire world seems to have become as hair trigger as the saloon bar of the Gunslingers' Arms in Dodge City.

Everybody needs to calm down a bit. Even up at Stormont. Actually, especially up at Stormont, where after the latest bout of flouncing and fighting talk it's back to nuclear winter between DUP and Sinn Fein.

Obviously this suits some. But we have as much need for more verbal aggro and grandstanding here as the world has need for a stand-off between Trump and Kim.

To quote Mr Trump himself: "It won't be good for anyone."

Bow down before the rise of the robots

So much for the claim that the meek will inherit the earth... according to a leading cosmologist, robots will one day soon (well, in about 100 years) replace humanity.

Sometimes, when you go on to one of those call centres where you’re given orders by a pre-recorded voice, you think we may be there already.

In a worst-case scenario, robots will keep us as their slaves.

With artificial intelligence, we are apparently designing our own doom. That robot vacuum cleaner I always thought was a great idea suddenly seems a bit sinister.

Rescue me from sanctimonious dog owners

The woman in the queue in front of me was showing some mobile phone pictures to her friend.

“Look”, she said, angling the device so that her mate could get a better look. “My two new rescue dogs.” On and on she went about her rescue dogs. Why not just dogs? We know the answer. Virtue signalling. “I’m noble, me. I rescue dogs.”

I can see why shelters use the phrase as it helps find homes for abandoned pets.

But rescue me from the likes of your woman who really feels the need to flag up her own magnanimity.

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