BY SAVANNAH HARRIMAN-POTE ’20
The New York Times reported that President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the first time at their headquarters in New York City on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
The president’s full address, which ran for approximately 42 minutes, was televised on C-SPAN. President Trump began his address praising the rise of the U.S. stock market, the decrease in the unemployment rate and the increased military spending seen under his administration, before transitioning to his discussion of U.S. foreign policy.
Throughout the video, Trump spoke of foreign threats in the form of “authority and authoritarian powers” and “international criminal networks,” calling upon the members of the UNGA to act quickly and decisively. “To put it simply,” he stated, “we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”
President Trump left little to the imagination in regards to which authoritarian powers he perceived as an international threat, saying, “No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.”
President Trump denounced North Korea’s imprisonment of American college student Otto Warmbier. According to the BBC, Warmbier was arrested on Jan. 22, 2016 in Pyongyang and spent 17 months in captivity in North Korea before being released. At the time of his release, Mr. Warmbier was in a coma due to severe brain damage. He died one week later.
Later in his address, the president condemned North Korea’s recent efforts to expand their nuclear arsenal. “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,” asserted Mr. Trump. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he said.
On Friday, Sept. 22, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, addressed the president directly through the state-sponsored news outlet, Korean Central News Agency. Kim chastised Mr. Trump’s rhetoric as “unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors” and promised to “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire.”
The bombastic exchange between the American president and the North Korean leader follows North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test which flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 15, reportedThe New York Times. In response to the latest squabble between Pyongyang and Washington, politics major Katie Popiela ’20, said, “I should have been shocked, but at this point, what else is new?”
President Trump’s speech signaled a departure from past U.S. presidents’ diplomatic approaches to foreign politics. NPR reported that rather than advocate a message of universal collaboration, Mr. Trump maintained the “America First” attitude that he has heralded through his campaign and first months in office. Maggie Dols ’20, an international relations major, is critical of the president’s stance. “What I hope for is that President Trump actually follows through on his statements about America,” said Dols. “He says ‘put the people first,’ but has yet to show that.”