Asia Pacific / Politics

North Korea likens Trump to Hitler, 'America First' to Nazism

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

Pyongyang has likened U.S. President Donald Trump to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, characterizing Trump’s “America First” policy as “the American version of Nazism,” state media reported Tuesday, as Washington grapples with the North Korean nuclear issue.

In an editorial entitled “We Reject ‘American-first Principle’ — Nazism in the 21st Century,” the Korean Central News Agency ripped into Trump’s approach to foreign policy, which focuses on U.S. interests and national security and touts peace through strength, but which has been criticized as isolationist.

“The ‘American-first principle’ … advocates the world domination by recourse to military means just as was the case with Hitler’s concept of world occupation,” the editorial said.

The principle is “the American version of Nazism far surpassing the fascism in the last century in its ferocious, brutal and chauvinistic nature,” it added.

Trump, the editorial claimed, was “following Hitler’s dictatorial politics” of dividing people into two categories — “friends and foes” — and creating an “atmosphere of horror among political, public, media, information and all other circles in the U.S.”

North Korean state media has long been known for its vitriol — which has often been directed at U.S. and South Korean leaders who defied Pyongyang.

In 2014, the North compared former U.S. President Barack Obama to a monkey after he backed a cinematic release of the film “The Interview,” a comedy that depicted the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Prior to her ouster, it also blasted former South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a “crazy old bitch” and a “female prostitute,” who it said was a puppet of the “pimp” Obama.

While Pyongyang habitually denounces its enemies with these kinds of colorful terms in its propaganda, comparisons to Hitler — the architect of the Holocaust — are unusual even by its own flamboyant standards.

For the past month, Pyongyang has slowly been lifting restrictions on rhetorical attacks that had been put in place at the beginning of the Trump administration, wrote Robert Carlin, a former U.S. government official and expert on North Korea, on the 38 North website Monday.

“From January through March, internal guidelines for the media treatment of the U.S. were fairly stringent — criticism of the administration’s actions and statements by U.S. officials were permissible, but there could be only little mention of the president personally, and no direct attacks on him,” Carlin wrote.

“That restraint slowly slipped away starting in mid-April after the administration announced the results of its North Korea policy review.”

The latest verbal onslaught comes just a week after nuclear-armed Pyongyang called Trump a “psychopath”, and as tensions soar following the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, who was evacuated from North Korea in a coma earlier this month.

Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the U.S. leader was in a “tough situation” at home and claimed he was toying with the idea of a pre-emptive strike on North Korea to divert attention from domestic political crises.

“South Korea must realize that following psychopath Trump … will only lead to disaster,” the editorial said.

Pyongyang has embarked on a series of nuclear tests and missile launches since last year that have ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Warmbier’s death further straining ties between the North and the U.S.

Trump blasted the “brutal regime” in Pyongyang, and said he was determined to “prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”

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