US President Donald Trump addressed the world during the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York.
The President spoke about “totally destroying” North Korea and harshly criticized the Iran nuclear deal.
US President Donald Trump has an enigmatic relationship with the international community. A strong proponent of “America First” policy, he has been critical of free trade and international bodies in the past. During the presidential campaign, Trump had mocked the function of the UN describing it as a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
Trump’s first address to the UN comes during a period where there are massive geopolitical crises across the world. There is the rising threat of North Korea, which conducted its sixth nuclear test in September 2017. In the Middle East, there is an impasse between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar. The international community is deeply divided on the US’ criticism of the Iran nuclear deal.
The US President is known for his populist rhetoric and during his first speech addressing the nation from the UN platform, he struck a similar tone. The address has been described as assertive, dark but not isolationist.
During the address, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and referred to the nation’s leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.” He said, “If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. Rocket man is on a suicide mission. 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.”
He also was critical of the Iran nuclear deal. He called it an “embarrassment” to the US noting, “The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it.”
After the address, Trump took to Twitter to note that all leaders in the event agreed with his vision stating, “A great and important day at the United Nations. Met with leaders of many nations who agree with much (or all) of what I stated in my speech!”
However, a few member nations have openly denounced Trump’s rhetoric. Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif said, “Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times-not the 21st Century UN -unworthy of a reply. Fake empathy for Iranians fools no one.”
According to Reuters, when Trump mentioned destroying North Korea, loud startled murmurs were heard from the audience members. One member is said to have covered his face with his hands. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was quoted by the BBC as noting, “It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience."
French President has also pointedly criticized Trump without naming him. Macron has thrown his support on the Iran nuclear deal and has ruled off military conflict with North Korea. Bolivia and Venezuela also sharply rebuked the US President. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro even called Donald Trump “the new Hitler”.
However, there were those members who supported Trump’s vision. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in favor of Trump’s views and proposed actions.
Our assessment is that Trump’s rhetoric of “America First” and a strong nation state is not a rejection of multilateralism but is a non-acceptance of globalism that he believes will dilute the will of the people.