Trump's UN ad­dress, North Korea's and Iran's re­sponses

People's Review - - OP-ED - BY M.R. JOSSE mr­

NEW YORK, NY: While the folks back home are fo­cused on Bada Da­sain, most peo­ple in this part of the world are at­tempt­ing to come to grips with the dev­as­ta­tion of the mas­sive earth­quake in Mex­ico - the sec­ond in two weeks - and the crip­pling im­pact of Hur­ri­cane Maria that has cru­elly dev­as­tated Puerto Rico.


How­ever, for those who at­tempt to mon­i­tor the broad trends of opin­ion and de­bate in the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly, cur­rently meet­ing here at its 72nd an­nual ses­sion, it will be no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to state that Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's 42-minute peroration, and most specif­i­cally his hard­hit­ting ver­bal at­tack on North Korea, Iran (and Venezuela), grabbed the most at­ten­tion. Per­haps only a tad less no­ticed was Trump's rather sur­pris­ing stress on 'sovereignty' while ex­pound­ing on his world­view, at­tempt­ing to blend his 'Amer­ica First' for­eign/se­cu­rity pol­icy doc­trine with Amer­ica's long and in­ti­mate as­so­ci­a­tion with pro­mot­ing the ba­sic tenets of world or­der and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, hark­ing back to the UN's found­ing and Amer­i­can ini­tia­tives such as the Mar­shal Plan for the re­cov­ery of post­Sec­ond World War Europe. Plainly, most of the 'lib­eral' me­dia and their pa­trons found his ro­bust de­fence of na­tional sovereignty jar­ringly out of whack - re­mind­ing any­one who would lis­ten that it was akin to lan­guage that small na­tions reg­u­larly use in the con­text of safe­guard­ing them­selves against the depre­da­tions or interference of larger neigh­bours, or de­fy­ing the dicta of the ma­jor pow­ers. [That nat­u­rally ap­plies to Nepal which, as all of us are ag­o­niz­ingly aware, con­tin­u­ally bears the brunt of po­lit­i­cal interference in her do­mes­tic af­fairs from In­dia - when, that is, she is not also be­ing used as a lab­o­ra­tory for myr­iad po­lit­i­cal ex­per­i­ments by a gag­gle of would-be do-good­ers in­clud­ing an ever-pro­lif­er­at­ing army of INGOs and NGOs.] Other sec­tions of the Amer­i­can me­dia, and the hoi pol­loi that form the base of the Trump move­ment, if it may so be called, seemed to rather en­joy their pres­i­dent's un­apolo­getic re­minder to the world of Amer­ica's sac­ri­fices and the nat­u­ral ten­dency to as­sume that Wash­ing­ton would, for ever and ever, con­tinue to bear a dis­pro­por­tion­ate bur­den of the cost of the UN, while get­ting kicked in the face de­spite, or be­cause of, all that. I have no doubt that the de­bate about whether or not Trump suc­ceeded in cred­i­bly spelling out or jus­ti­fy­ing the es­sen­tials of his for­eign pol­icy - which, ba­si­cally, is still a work-in­progress - will con­tinue through his term in of­fice, whether it be for one, or two terms.


De­spite that caveat, the Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent's maiden UN ad­dress - ex­e­cuted with char­ac­ter­is­tic flair, flam­boy­ance and a touch of apoc­a­lyp­tic rhetoric - will be re­mem­bered, most of all, for his frontal as­sault on North Korea and Iran, in­clud­ing this rather Bib­li­cal ad­mo­ni­tion: "If the righ­teous many do not con­front the wicked few, then evil will tri­umph...When de­cent peo­ple and na­tions be­come by­standers to his­tory, the forces of de­struc­tion only gather power and strength." Sim­i­larly note­wor­thy was this ver­bal fussilade and re­minder di­rected at North Korean leader Kim Jong-un: "The United States has great strength and pa­tience, but if it is forced to de­fend it­self or its al­lies, will have no choice but to to­tally de­stroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a sui­cide mis­sion for him­self, for his regime." Pre­dictably, Kim re­sponded promptly in kind, de­scrib­ing Trump as a "rogue" and "gang­ster" and a "fright­ened dog". At the UN, his For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Hong-ho told re­porters that North Korea may test a hy­dro­gen bomb in the Pa­cific to ful­fill Kim's vow to take to the "high­est level" ac­tion against the United States. In his state­ment, Kim de­clared that rather than scar­ing him off his beaten path, Trump's threats to North Korea only jus­tify the ra­tio­nale for North Korea's nu­clear/mis­sile pro­gramme. In­ter­est­ingly, some com­men­ta­tors have latched on Kim's use of the old English word 'dotard' - to de­scribe Trump - a word that the Mer­riam-Web­ster dic­tionary says means "a per­son in his or her dotage - a state or pe­riod of se­nile de­cay marked by de­cline of men­tal poise and alert­ness." This term, one is in­formed, is trend­ing on­line. That said, it may prob­a­bly be a good thing that Trump and Kim are ac­tu­ally 'talk­ing' to one an­other, rather than fir­ing off mis­siles. The same can prob­a­bly be said of the fact that Trump soon af­ter his first UN ad­dress, through a new ex­ec­u­tive or­der, com­manded a widen­ing of Amer­i­can sanc­tions on North Korea aimed at cut­ting off that coun­try from the in­ter­na­tional bank­ing sys­tem while tar­get­ing its ma­jor in­dus­tries and ship­ping - rather than un­leash­ing the dogs of war! Iran's For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­hammed Javad Zarif, for his part, de­scribed as "ab­surd" Trump's char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the Iran nu­clear deal of 2015 a one-sided em­bar­rass­ing to the United States ex­plain­ing, "By def­i­ni­tion, a deal is not per­fect be­cause in any deal you have to give and take. Oth­er­wise you won't have a deal." Talk­ing to re­porters, colum­nists and edi­to­rial writ­ers of the New York Times, Zarif dis­missed the idea of an ad­den­dum to the 2015 agree­ment, now be­ing floated in some Amer­i­can quar­ters, and re­minded them: "Who would come to lis­ten to you any­more? With such a threat, the US is send­ing the wrong sig­nal." In­ter­est­ingly, af­ter a meet­ing on the Iran nu­clear deal at the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil of the P5 + Ger­many the other day, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel seemed to echo Zarif's ar­gu­ments say­ing: "To can­cel the agree­ment would send a very neg­a­tive sig­nal. It will be much more dif­fi­cult to find a diplo­matic so­lu­tion to other con­flicts about nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion - notably North Korea."


While Trump praised Jor­dan, Saudi Ara­bia and Le­banon, he did not re­fer to the Ro­hingya is­sue which both the Nige­rian and Turk­ish pres­i­dents took up, with the former call­ing the crack­down by the Myan­mar mil­i­tary anti-Mus­lim atroc­ity rem­i­nis­cent of Bu­rundi (1995) and Rwanda (1994).

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