Josh Earnest: Trump's UN Speech was 'Foolish,' Lacked 'Coherence'

Wednesday, 20 Sep, 2017

Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom he described as "rocket man", that the United States is prepared to "totally destroy" his country if Pyongyang continues moving forward with its nuclear ambitions. "Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime", he added, deploying a Trumpian insult he had first debuted on Twitter days before.

While running for office, Trump had labeled the United Nations weak and incompetent.

Donald Trump meant to use his speech at the UN General Assembly to reframe U.S. foreign policy around the philosophy of "principled realism".

Trump has said the global body needs to prove its value, and he's leaning on it to do so on both North Korea and, to a lesser extent, Iran.

Trump implored the United Nations members to "confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil and terror" - such as North Korea, Iran and Syria.

"The longest suffering victims of Iran's leaders are, in fact, its own people", Trump said. But he said the world faces some grave threats that require a collective response from the global community.

He blasted the six-nation nuclear agreement with Tehran as an "embarrassment to the United States" and pledged to root out "radical Islamic terrorism" that in some cases is supported by the Iranian government.

In a blunt and blistering speech, Trump also denounced governments in Syria, Iran and Venezuela, emphasizing that they all must be confronted by a coalition of "sovereign" nations.

"We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow", Trump said.

As we have learned in Nigeria, sometimes you need to change in order to remain the same.

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Trump's speech presented another opportunity to push his "America First" foreign policy vision, this time in front of an worldwide body he has often maligned. He said little on Monday about his administration's potential move to cut United Nations funding, instead urging reform of the institution. His ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat in seats designated for the US delegation. The philosophy that Trump encouraged UN members to embrace was that patriotism, democracy and the people each nation serves should be central to leaders' decision-making.

"The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but - to be fair - if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it", Mr Trump said.

He declared the Iran nuclear deal all but dead, saying it was an "embarrassment" to the United States.

"I will always put American first".

"Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of their future, and control their own destiny".

Trump spoke at the UNGA meeting just after Brazil's Michel Temer, presenting his message to the world while also pushing for his nationalist "America First" agenda. He made it clear that U.S. policy would take a sharp turn towards self-interest and put nations on notice over trade.

The 42-minute address was met at times by light applause as Trump delivered it and when he concluded.

North Korea was in the front row for Trump's speech, because the United Nations uses a lottery system to determine seating.

The president's comments also reverberated back in Washington, where critics took aim at his warnings to Pyongyang.