North Korea says that they are under the impression that the United States declared war on them over the weekend. This was based on a Saturday night Tweet, in which President Trump said of North Korea “they won’t be around much longer!”
North Korea took this particularly seriously as a came less than a week after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea during his address at the UN General Assembly. The White House claimed that believing war as declared was “absurd.”
Yet it’s the latest in a long line of “misunderstandings” centering on the administration’s inconsistent Twitter policy. Officials have long maintained that Trump’s Tweets are official statements, but have also insisted certain Trump Tweets, particularly rants made at odd hours, don’t represent the government’s policies.
This level of confusion about where the administration stands is getting shockingly common, as President Trump threatens wars over Twitter seemingly several times a week, and spends much of the rest of the time deriding the TV ratings of whoever he’s decided are his internal enemies at any given time.
It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, if US analysts don’t know what US policy is, that North Korea might similarly not be totally clear about how at war the US is with them. This is potentially much more serious, however, in the case of a nuclear war.
After all, the US is conducting regular “show of force” attacks near North Korea’s borders, and North Korea now says, believing that Trump’s threats are sincere, they may attempt to shoot down attacking US warplanes. That the warplanes aren’t meant to be part of the Twitter narrative may mean less and less in the event of a shooting war.