By: John Moody
It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump presenting a more direct, focused and needed speech than the one he gave at the United Nations. Sticking to teleprompter, he told the world body it was not doing its job. He also called out some of its bad actor members, in particular North Korea, which he baldly threatened with total destruction.
The speech’s content had been widely telegraphed last week, but it was also, inevitably, a recitation of the rants and warnings that first Candidate, and more recently, President Trump has been pounding since his campaign took off. The Iran nuclear deal, he noted with justifiable heat, was signed without proper regard for America’s interests and needs fixing. Similarly, trade pacts with other nations must be more even-handed than the NAFTA agreement has proven to be.
Trump’s hottest rhetoric – and thankfully, here he stayed on script – was directed at North Korea. While he needlessly mocked its leader, Kim Jong-Un, as “rocket boy,” his warning to the Hermit Kingdom could not have been clearer or starker. Kim, the president said, is on a suicidal path that could result in North Korea’s “complete destruction.” There could be no misunderstanding those words, which no doubt are now careening around Beijing, Seoul and Moscow.
Perhaps most important to Trump, he laid out an honest and honorable definition of what he means by America First: it’s his job as president of the United States to put the interests of his citizens at the top of his priority list. The same burden, he said, falls on other world leaders with regard to their countrymen. What the U.S. is no longer willing to do, he said in plain (and scripted) language, is to allow itself to be out-dealt and outvoted on issues that affect Americans.
He bluntly told his hosts at the UN that they often failed to carry out their promises. And he pointed out the absurdity of appointing member states with horrible human rights records to its Human Rights Commission. This was a president of the people (despite receiving fewer votes than his opponent) speaking for the people. His speech will be criticized by some as hawkish. So what? Trump has shown that while he’s open to deal-making, he can also resort to force, as he did in Syria.
His speech is likely to restore the faith and enthusiasm of his base supporters, and give other world leaders a better indication of who this strange, unconventional president – with the the world’s greatest armed forces behind him – really is.
If Trump can just stick to script, as he did at the UN, he could close out 2017 on a very successful note.