President Donald Trump shows the world who’s the boss who pay the bill in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly. As the largest contributor of U.N. operating expenses, the president told the world body to reform to “Make the United Nations Great” – but not “again” – suggesting that U.N. has never been great in the first place.
He also used the word “sovereign” 21 times during his 42-minute speech. His message was that individual country – Not United Nations – that should determine the fate of the world. It was consistent with his nationalism and “America First” doctrine and policy. Unlike Obama, he refused to talk about human rights, let alone climate change.
And unlike Bush, President Trump downplayed the idea that the U.S. should intervene to spread democratic systems worldwide. Interestingly, he accepts the fact that rival powers like China and Russia will pursue their own goals, which might not be in line with American values. Heck, he also thanked both Moscow and Beijing for help with sanctions against North Korea.
But as a reality-TV star, Trump made sure the delegates received their fair dose of entertainment. After all, that was part of the delegates’ expectation. The president called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “Rocket Man” and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if the United States is forced to defend itself or allies against the North’s aggression.
Trump roared – “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. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”
But North Korea wasn’t the only rogue state in the eyes of Trump. Questioning the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Trump said the world cannot allow the “murderous regime” to continue its destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles. Saudi Arabia must be very pleased to hear him calling Iran an “economically depleted rogue state” whose chief export is violence.
Taking a punch at his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump said – “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the U.S. has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the U.S., and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me. It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.”
The U.S. president’s third punching bag was Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Accusing him of stealing power, Trump said – “The Venezuelan people are starving, and their country is collapsing, their democratic institutions are being destroyed. This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.”
However, the U.S. president dares not punch China, despite the fact that the Chinese has close relationship with all of Trump’s punching bags – North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping – who have been protecting North Korea, one way or another – were not in attendance.
Unlike during his pre-election vow to crack down on China’s “unfair” trading practices, Trump was careful not to anger Beijing with his trade war rhetoric, for now. There was no declaration of trade war – that his administration is willing to go against China over problems in bilateral trade and investment. Similarly, Trump also refrained from naming China as enabler of global security threat – the North Korea.
Perhaps his script-writer realized how contradiction it would be to lecture the world about “sovereignty” but at the same time dictating what other nations should and should not do. In July, Trump made a fool of himself – from berating China on trade, to bragging about “an excellent meeting” with President Xi Jinping on trade, and then back to excoriating China for doing “NOTHING for us on North Korea”.
Obviously, Trump administration cannot afford to start a war with China ahead of his summit meeting with Xi administration, scheduled in coming November. After Beijing stopped entertaining Washington’s cries and whines about North Korea, telling the Yankees to take responsibility and fix their own problems instead, Trump appears to have taken notice.
The fact remains that China is a powerful stakeholder in the world as the Middle Kingdom practices a very different foreign policy of establishing economic ties, unlike U.S.’ of picking fights with anyone who disagrees with them. As a businessman himself, Trump finally realizes that the corporate world is quite similar to the world of politics.
While Trump can bully smaller rivals such as North Korea or Iran, the same way he bulldozed his way in the business world, he can’t possibly expect a victory by going to war with a huge foreign corporation such as China. Still, he was absolutely correct to call for a stop to radicalized Islamic terrorism – because that’s the common enemy even to China and Russia.