Trump’s Madman Theory Is Simply Crazy

The spat with Bob Corker exposed four fatal flaws in the president’s North Korea strategy.

by Hal Brands

Even in the Donald Trump era, it’s not every day you see the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee publicly accuse a president from his own party of being a mental infant and leading the country down “the path to World War III.” The spat between Trump and Senator Bob Corker has thus generated headlines for the window it has opened onto an astonishing rift between the president and one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress.

Yet the episode may be even more revealing for what it says about the nature of Trump’s strategy for dealing with the world’s most difficult geopolitical challenges — and why that approach may prove far more dangerous than the president realizes.

Many of Trump’s core views on foreign policy have remained fairly stable since he emerged as a national figure in the 1980s, and among these is the belief that American leaders need to be crazy like foxes if they are to succeed in a cutthroat world.