This is an era of diplomatic bluster, bluff and buffering.
The blusterers and bluffers get most of the attention. U.S. President Donald Trump is a master of the crude threat, encapsulated in his promise to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea. Yet such rhetoric is now the common currency of international affairs.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has lambasted Trump as a “dotard.” Russian President Vladimir Putin boasts about his country’s unstoppable nuclear missiles. Foreign policy analysts, once accustomed to parsing the careful phrases of former U.S. President Barack Obama, now spend days trying to distinguish between meaningless bile and really dangerous nonsense.