Quote of the Day:
Mr. Trump added a challenge that most of the media ignored: “The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.”
Imagine that. An American president goes to the U.N. and calls upon the United Nations to do what the vast and expensive international apparatus was founded to do: make the world safer.
IWF Senior Fellow Claudia Rosett characterized President Trump's U.N. speech yesterday as a homerun for the United States. Claudia writes:
President Trump gave his first official speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, and was immediately berated by the New York Times (Trump's "characteristically confrontational message") and the Washington Post ("Trump's menacing United Nations speech, annotated"). Sen. Dianne Feinstein lambasted him for words that "greatly escalated the danger" from Iran and North Korea. And the foreign minister of Venezuela's socialist dictatorship, Jorge Arreaza — apparently trying to formulate some sort of supreme insult — compared Trump in 2017 to President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
With that kind of reaction, you might just start to suspect that Trump did something right.
Actually, Trump got it very right. In a forum accustomed to diplo-fictions and the dignifying of dictators, he hit a home run for America.
In some quarters it appears cage rattling that an American president didn't refer to the North Korean dictator who starves his people to finance rockets–and whom the president called Rocket Man yesterday–with sufficient gravitas.
But Kim Jong-il was probably not the only dictator displeased with President Trump's U.N. speech. Trump took a dig at another dictator in the segment of the speech insisting that nations should respect the rights of their people and of other sovereign nations. National Review editors observed:
[Trump] underlined those standards when blasting the world’s bad actors.
His best line was directed at Venezuela. Offering a moment of clarity to a world that often acts puzzled as to why a once-prosperous nation is sinking into poverty and chaos, Trump said, “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”
That’s exactly right, and it’s a sad testament to socialism’s enduring ideological appeal that what should have been an applause line was met with stony silence.
IWF Senior Fellow Rosett is one of the world's foremost experts on the United Nations (she broke the oil-for-food scandal at the U.N. and is writing a book on the U.N.). So I especially urge you to read her analysis. Claudia points out the part of the president's speech that inspired the most pearl clutching:
"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime."
She explains why the headlines and vapors from enlightened quarters in response to this part of the speech were off base:
That's not bombast. That's a pointed and useful warning to a totalitarian tyrant, who in contravention of nine UN sanctions resolutions and all basic decency has been threatening preemptive nuclear strikes on the U.S. and its allies, advertising the testing of hydrogen bombs and shooting intercontinental ballistic missiles over Japan. Let's hope Kim Jong Un takes it seriously, despite decades of U.S. compromise and retreat that led to this pass.
As for the derision implicit in the label "Rocket Man," I'd say that Trump in describing the murderous despot of North Korea displayed a distinct delicacy simply by avoiding the use of raw profanity from the UN podium. Would it have been better to deferentially describe Kim as the supreme leader of North Korea? Mockery has its uses in facing down despots.
The confrontation here is of North Korea's making — and the dangers have grown all the worse over the years for such nonconfrontational approaches as the nuclear deals of Presidents Bush and Clinton, and the do-nothing "strategic patience" of President Obama.
The Wall Street Journal editors argue that the president's view of sovereignty was "cramped" in that it wasn't as critical as it should have been of repressive regimes such as Russia and China, where the rights of the people are trampled. But this was nonetheless a refreshing and impressive maiden address to the United Nations.