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Trump’s Belligerent U.N. Speech

Trump’s speech [1] at the U.N. General Assembly this morning contained [2] a lot of ill-advised and dangerous remarks, but this one stood out:

If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.

U.S. foreign policy already suffers from far too much self-congratulation and excessive confidence in our own righteousness, so it was alarming to hear Trump speak in such stark, fanatical terms about international affairs. Paired with his confrontational rhetoric directed towards North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, Trump’s choice to cast these states as the “wicked few” portends more aggressive and meddlesome policies and gives the leaders of all of these governments reason to assume the worst about our intentions. It was similar to Bush’s foolish “axis of evil” remarks in 2002. The statement itself is also rather odd in that it talks about the many being righteous, when religious texts normally present the righteous as being the relatively few and embattled against the wicked multitude. If the “wicked” are so few, they must be badly outnumbered and don’t pose as much of a threat as Trump claims elsewhere. It also strains credulity that Trump speaks on behalf of righteousness when he embraces so many abusive despots and enables Saudi-led coalition crimes in Yemen.

Trump declared the nuclear deal an “embarrassment,” which strongly suggests that he won’t agree to recertify the deal when the next deadline comes up in mid-October. He emphasized the importance of sovereignty for the U.S., but in everything else he had to say he showed that he was happy to trample on the sovereignty of other states when it suited him. While his threat to “destroy” North Korea was framed as a defense of the U.S. and allies, it will only make the North Korean government more determined than ever to develop its nuclear arsenal and missiles. He hinted that the U.S. would interfere more in Venezuela [3], which will almost certainly be used by Maduro and his allies to their advantage.


All of this belligerent and confrontational rhetoric just raises tensions in several different parts of the world, and it appears to commit the U.S. to more meddling around the world and potentially risks getting the U.S. into more avoidable wars. None of that has anything to do with putting American interests first. Much of Trump’s speech was an assertion of a desire to dictate terms to other states, and as such it is likely to be poorly received by most of the governments of the world.

22 Comments (Open | Close)

22 Comments To "Trump’s Belligerent U.N. Speech"

#1 Comment By Phil Giraldi On September 19, 2017 @ 11:35 am

The threat to “totally destroy North Korea” came as a shocker even though I was expecting something like it. And Iran also on the firing line (again). The only question is whom we will be attacking first. This kind of stuff is completely insane and serves no conceivable national interest. I would like to know what the world’s assembled top diplomats actually think of our “leader of the free world.”

#2 Comment By collin On September 19, 2017 @ 11:52 am

My guess foreign leaders eyesores from rolling them to much and it was mostly a forgettable and predictable speech. Didn’t Daniel Drezner essentially predict Trump’s speech? And unlike Bush Jr. who was at least a better communicator this just comes across like a bad Trump rally speech and it failed without his crowd.

Unfortunately, much like his tweets nobody really listened or taking Trump seriously.

#3 Comment By JK On September 19, 2017 @ 1:25 pm

Collin – that nobody takes Trump seriously is the only silver lining.

#4 Comment By Stephen J, On September 19, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

April 10, 2017
Oh Donny Boy: An Ode to The Donald

Oh, Donny Boy, the missiles, the missiles are landing
On Syria, Yemen and other countries too
Nations are being destroyed and people are slaughtered
Is this what you and other “leaders” want to do?

Your credibility is gone, and many people are dying
But you are praised and lauded by those who hated you
Oh Donny Boy, Oh, Donny Boy the planet is in deep doo, doo
Should we give “thanks” for your missile maniacs’ crew?

Still, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and England
The NATO countries and the corporate media too
Are all in “Seventh Heaven” and now ecstatic over you
Oh, Donny Boy, Oh, Donny Boy these are your “war friends”?
Isn’t that so very true!

The generals are all so happy for more “work” for them to do
And you and other “leaders” in their bunkers can watch it all “play out” too
Meanwhile the ordinary people everywhere will pay and pay and pay
Millions of dollars for missiles: and you had a “wonderful day”

And when you send more and more hellish missiles
Exploding into cities and countries as well
And when the nuclear bombs start falling
You will have opened the gates of hell

There will be nobody left after it’s all over
In a world we once, all knew
Oh Donny Boy, Oh Donny Boy, Did you make “America great again”?
And incinerate the world too. RIP….

[read more at link below]

#5 Comment By max skinner On September 19, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

Collin–I’m not sure nobody pays attention to Trump. The leader of North Korea seems to pay attention and he’s the one who can force Trump into making his threats into reality.

#6 Comment By mark_be On September 19, 2017 @ 2:03 pm

W. got by with three countries in his axis of evil. I guess America can’t be made great again without increasing its number of enemies.

At least his speech writer remembered the rule that evil always comes in odd numbers.

#7 Comment By Christian Chuba On September 19, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

* disclaimer * I am not exonerating DT.

The sad thing is that his belligerence, sanctimony, and self-righteousness are in total alignment with our Foreign Policy Establishment.

Axis of Evil: Iran, N. Korea, Syria.
Axis of the not-so-good: Russia, China, Turkey.
Axis of the runner ups: Cuba, Venezuela, ???

#8 Comment By GregF On September 19, 2017 @ 3:39 pm

Just when I think the U.S. reputation internationally cannot get worse – El Douche opens his mouth. Good lord what a child. I actually miss the days of George W. Bush…..never thought I’d say that….

#9 Comment By b. On September 19, 2017 @ 4:22 pm

“Much of Trump’s speech was an assertion of a desire to dictate terms to other states, and as such it is likely to be poorly received by most of the governments of the world.”

It is a telling and sordid truth that most of those governments poorly receiving this assertion will do so mostly because the blatantness with which Trump unmasks the US posture towards the world makes it even more galling to continue to acquiesce. It is not like Trump is an outlier, from Obama’s continuation of the erosion of the very concept of sovereignity to the Bush Doctrine, all the way back to Eisenhower’s decisions to meddle in Iran and Congo, the issue with Trump in foreign policy circles domestic and abroad is not what he does, just what he says. If anything, he has yet to do anything of significance – a few missiles launched at Syrian military forces is certainly a folly, but how could it compare to e.g. facilitating the birth of both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, as Carter can rightly claim?

One example: for all its posturing in 2003, Germany, rotated into temporary membership of the UN Security Council, was in a position to unilaterally force a General Assembly vote on the US invasion of Iraq – drawing on UN resolution 377, ironically for the purpose that Eisenhower designed it for. The illegal war against Iraq certainly became a prominent issue in subsequent German elections; however, the German government did not really object to the violation of the UN Charter – just the inconvenient blatantness of it. Bush and Trump both are dinstiguished merely by an unwillingness or inability to provide face-saving cover to “allies” from the likes of Obama or Clinton (either).

Incidentally, the members of the UN Security Council – permanent and temporary – are just as well positioned to drag any current or future violation of the UN Charter into a General Assembly session that will be as edifying as it will be paralyzing. That certainly would apply to elective war on the Korean peninsula, which would be just as “poorly received” among the great nations of this world as the inane speeches that will doubtlessly lead up to it.

#10 Comment By Ken_L On September 19, 2017 @ 5:02 pm

The speech was straight out of the Mike Flynn/Michael Ledeen “America is losing a war against a global coalition” school of lunacy. It would be interesting to know who wrote it; Trump himself is self-evidently incapable, and it didn’t sound lilek something either McMaster or Tillerson would have drafted. But if it was Miller or some other gormless White House adviser, you wonder how McMaster and Tillerson can remainin office and retain their self-respect.

#11 Comment By a spencer On September 19, 2017 @ 7:18 pm

Phil Giraldi,
>> Iran also on the firing line (again).

I’ve maintained that the US will not attack Iran. Two thirds the size of western Europe, most people in their country will rally behind the state apparatus, no real allied support and after 40+ years of either fighting or on war footing the Iranians have been “on notice”. Trump’s “surprise attack” rhetoric from the campaign is foolhardy in the face of the routinely threatened Islamic Republic. Or North Korea, for that matter.

This guy currently, the one anyone who cared could read about in Spy Magazine in the 1980s and predict all of this, the one with five kids from three wives, in the Oval Office may be shallow and gullible enough to do it. But threatening Iran is old hat by now and there has to be someone left with enough sense to end that nonsense. Right? Right?

By the way, for the record, I think its agreed that Stephen Miller wrote the speech? Someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

#12 Comment By Norwegian Blue On September 19, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

“Gormless.” adj. Chiefly British. Lacking intelligence or vitality; stupid or dull.

Great word! Learn something new every day. Thanks Ken_L!

#13 Comment By rayray On September 19, 2017 @ 8:57 pm

@a spencer
Yeah, it seems pretty clear now that Stephen Miller wrote it.

BTW, John Kelly’s faceplant during the speech was priceless. He was reacting for all of us.

#14 Comment By John On September 19, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

“If the “wicked” are so few, they must be badly outnumbered and don’t pose as much of a threat as Trump claims elsewhere.”

If Trump was logical, this would give him pause.

#15 Comment By Jason On September 20, 2017 @ 8:56 am

If the intention was to make friends weary and enemies unite, then Trumps, Belligerence, Nationalist false compassion for others views of the three pillars in their own sovereignty, security and prosperity was clearly a success.

If on the other hand he thought bombastic words and vigorous dominant tone would attract those who oppose to join in dialogue and allies to rally to support progressive outcomes of peaceful respect for the three pillars from all sides, then I fear this was all diminished in 42 minutes of self addressed invitations to the wrong party.

Or in long past words shared by most world views and basic values for understanding perhaps Trumps God Bless speech should have started with a bible lesson. Matthew 7:5 KJV:

#16 Comment By Canaan On September 20, 2017 @ 10:07 am

I’m curious — what is Netanyahu up to? He approves of Trump decertifying JCPOA? I could understand his hard-line during JCPOA negotiations, but throwing out the deal now? With Iran in compliance, the multi-national sanctions will not ‘snap back.’ According to Dick Cheney, U.S. unilateral sanctions won’t impede Iran as long as they can make money in Europe, China, and Russia. Iran may or may not decide to restart their nuke program, since Trump will have destroyed the sanctions regime. So what is ‘Bibi’ up to?

Now that we know Netanyahu is corrupt, I do not put it past ‘Bibi’ to commit existential treason against his own country Israel. What’s the bribery angle, how is Bibi getting paid to sabotage JCPOA? I don’t know his game, but I do know that something stinks about Netanyahu.

#17 Comment By Daniel Larison On September 20, 2017 @ 10:17 am

According to what he said his own speech this week, Netanyahu thinks the deal is terrible and that we should “fix it or nix it.”


Netanyahu’s position is predictably ridiculous. He objects to sunset clauses in JCPOA, and so he would rather scrap the entire deal now unless restrictions can be imposed in perpetuity. Of course, every international agreement expires at some point and has to be renewed. No one wants to lock in a deal for all time, and any agreement that didn’t have a sunset clause would be unacceptable to at least one of the parties. Netanyahu is at odds with Israeli intelligence chiefs on this point, but he doesn’t care. He thinks it is useful for him to take a fanatical position, and so he does.

#18 Comment By Flavius On September 20, 2017 @ 10:58 am

Christian Chuba nails it: one can’t characterize Trump as an increasingly dangerous oaf without implicating the foul stew that now appears to be his sustaining fare.
But let’s give the man credit: he has united the war mongering right with the war mongering left that upon the man’s election consolidated an antipathy for Russia that it never seemed able to do during the bad old days of Cold War I.
Bravo the Donald: the promise of a rational Foreign Policy that you rode to victory over “Lying Hillary” lasted a New York minute and now you are her with, if it is possible, even less charm.
Oh well! as the prophet said, “all things are vanity.”

#19 Comment By mrscracker On September 20, 2017 @ 11:39 am

If the assumption is correct that North Korea is just using its nuclear threat as a shakedown scheme to get what it wants from the West, perhaps Mr Trump is calling their bluff?

#20 Comment By bkh On September 20, 2017 @ 11:42 am

What kind of tone should Trump carry? What kind of solutions should Trump be looking at in a world that losing its collective mind? How can we expect Trump to not be as ridiculous as the America populace? A populace full of narcissistic cry babies. Why should America be expected to take a lesser nationalistic stance while other nations clamp down? Why should America bend over backwards for nations that hate our sad self-indulging lifestyles? America has killed millions through abortion for lust and convenience. It is now calling debauchery and mental illness as normal. It makes fun of any mention of true repentance. No, America deserves Trump. It deserves a misguided, partisan, hamstrung DC. It deserves the delusion that all will be well once Trump is gone. It also deserves the delusion that Trump and most of his ideas are the answer. Let him make his hardline speeches. Let him drive those enemies out in the open where they can be seen. Who really are allies? Who are the users? Who, like Saudi, are liars?

#21 Comment By rayray On September 20, 2017 @ 11:51 am

Netanyahu is utterly dependent upon Israel remaining under constant threat. Iran has obliged him with their own flavor of unhinged and anti-semitic rhetoric, coupled with a nuclear program. It’s PERFECT and he knows it.

The JCPOA threatens all of that with a rational and diplomatic diminution of the tensions. If the general tension goes down too much the Israeli electorate might actually start looking too close at what a disaster he has been as a leader. And I don’t think it’s just political calculus, I also think Netanyahu is instinctively paranoid, insular and militaristic. This is how he was raised, these are his tools.

#22 Comment By Josef Klíma On September 24, 2017 @ 5:05 am

Trump is aggressive ignoramus. Greeting from Czech republic.