President Trump brought his disruptor-in-chief style to the United Nations in a blunt speech yesterday, warning that the U.S. may have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” slamming Iran as an “economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos” and proclaiming that some parts of the world “are going to hell.”
“Trump’s speech was big and bold,” said Peter Brookes, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation. “It’s hard to quibble with him directly and forcefully calling on UN member states to act more vigorously on international challenges like North Korea. Perhaps his plain-spoken approach … will result in the UN upping its game on pressing security problems.”
It was Trump’s first major address to the United Nations General Assembly, with more than 150 international delegations gathered, including at least one North Korean diplomat seated in the front row.
“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
The last time such drama played out in the UN was when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was said to have banged his shoe on a table in 1960, according to William Keylor, an international relations and history professor at the Pardee School at Boston University.
“I cannot recall a time when a leader used a sort of name like ‘Rocket Man’ to refer to a particular political leader,” said Keylor. “Certainly there’s been a lot of criticism over the years in the UN, but by singling him out and using a kind of epithet to insult him, that’s a first, I think.”
Keylor added that Trump may have left himself exposed to criticism if Kim thumbs his nose at the president by continuing missile tests.
“If it turns out that his fiery rhetoric does not lead to a freeze of North Korea’s nuclear activities, then that’s going to be a black mark against him,” said Keylor. “It’ll look as though it was nothing but rhetoric.”
After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
Trump effectively divided the world stage into two parts yesterday, calling for “the righteous many” to confront “the wicked few.” He then named the “small group of rogue regimes” that have violated UN principles — particularly North Korea, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba.
Without mentioning his name, Trump blasted President Obama’s deal with Iran, but stopped short of announcing intentions for the U.S. to back out.
“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” said Trump. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.”
Trump, who spoke mostly from prepared remarks, also repeated campaign talking points that the U.S. shoulders too much of the UN’s financial burden.
“We pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more,” Trump said. “In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden. But to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.”
Trump was a fierce critic of the UN on the campaign trail, but his speech — and a toast afterward — showed the anti-establishment president still sees a use and a future for the frequently disparaged organization.
“The word is ‘potential,'” Trump said after the speech.
“The potential of the United Nations is unlimited, and I really believe … you are going to do things that will be epic, and I certainly hope you will.”
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