Retired General David Petraeus said President Donald Trump was employing a precarious method by using the "madman" strategy to deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Petraeus, who commanded U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and served as CIA director under former President Barack Obama, explained the strategy could be effective until it became disastrous, Business Insider reported Friday.
Petraeus was speaking at the Intelligence Squared debate at New York University and explained there could be some "merit" to the "madman" strategy, although in a crisis it could "go too far."
The "madman" theory is a negotiating strategy that keeps the opposing party "off balance" by exhibiting inconsistency, Petraeus explained.
"Don't push — don't push this into a crisis," he said, echoing words of Henry Kissinger, secretary of State under former President Richard Nixon, who used similar tactics in dealing with North Vietnam and Russia.
Petraeus said Kissinger would warn his Soviet counterparts during the Cold War, "You know, Nixon's under a lot of pressure right now and, you know, he drinks at night sometimes, so you guys ought to be real careful."
The "madman" approach can be useful, Petraeus maintained, until the other side viewed you as "irrational."
"You do not want the other side thinking that you might be sufficiently irrational to conduct a first strike or to do something, you know, so-called unthinkable," Petraeus said.
The strategy is one Trump explained in his book, "The Art of the Deal," where he maintained "a little hyperbole never hurts" in certain negotiations.
North Korea on Friday again launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan despite sanctions imposed against that country over their nuclear weapons program.
For his part, the North Korean leader may be employing a "madman" strategy of his own to keep the international community wondering about his next move.
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