We will not present the most important messages in D. Trump’s September 19 speech at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in the order of their importance but rather in the order in which they were listed by the speaker. Except for the opinion whose importance he outlined himself on his own Twitter account, namely: “The USA has great strength & patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy #NoKo.” In his speech, it took the following form: “If it the US forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” and “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime… The U.S. is ready, willing and able to take military action, but hopefully that won’t be necessary.”
Apart from this trenchant stance taken against the North Korean regime, President Trump also launched messages such as: “I will always put America first just like you, the leaders of your countries, should put your countries first.”; ”International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people, force dislocation and mass migration, /…/ To put it simply, we meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril”; “ Our success ( of United Nations as organization ) depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity and peace, for themselves and for the world”; “ We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife. We are guided by outcomes, not ideologies”; “We must protect our nations, their interests and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea. We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow”; “The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country, with a rich history and culture, into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violent, bloodshed and chaos. /…/ This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar Al Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East”; “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it”; “We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it /…/ to tear up the entire world. We must deny the terrorists’ safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. /…/ It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and others that slaughter innocent people”; “I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their home. The UN and African union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflict in Africa. The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief, in south Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen”; “We also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity”; “The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22% of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. 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”; “Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell, but the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the united nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems”; “My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms. We have also imposed tough calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse. The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country. This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation /…/ The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable, and we cannot stand by and watch.”
The U.S. President basically outlined his foreign policy programme, stating the philosophy that guides him – the national sovereignty and well-being of every nation, goals that should be the duty of each responsible Head of State, basically a systemic extension of his own MAGA slogan – but also outlining the threats lying before the community of nations, namely crises throughout the globe (from Ukraine and South China Sea to Venezuela), as well as his administration’s vision on the role of the UN, which must undergo a process of reform. The tweets, which immediately grew in number, emphasised that “Trump is declaring two wars in this UN speech. Hard to believe he won’t pull out of Iran deal now” (Ian Bremmer), and that now more than ever “No US president has ever addressed the world in that fashion. Without a doubt, it was least coherent, most warlike, and most value free ever” (E. Luce). He was reproached for the fact that he lacks a concept of international system: “For Trump the world is a game of sovereign nations all putting their interest first. No mention of rules. No concept of global order. #UNGA” (Carl Bildt). That “President Trump #UNGA speech resurrects a turbocharged version of “axis of evil” now down to North Korea and Iran. Dangerously simplistic.” Similarly, that his mention of Iran will blow wind in the sails of Iranian “hawks” and will bring instability to the Middle East: “Trump #UNGA speech seems designed to live up to “Great Satan” prejudices of Iran hardliners. Guess they are pleased” (Carl Bildt). The former Swedish Premier also noted that this would be the first time when an American President eliminates from his agenda the Israeli-Palestinian issue, which bodes ill: “Egged on by Netanyahu it seems Trump wants to take the US into a region-wide war with Iran. Europe will suffer. Everyone will lose.” Finally, also revealed is a similarity in what concerns Trump’s speech, in a negative sense though: “The most irresponsible weird action by any leader since Kruchev shoe banging ‘have no choice than to totally destroy North Korea.’” One of Gideon Rachman’s retweets offers an overall – hence shared – characterisation and notes a shortcoming in Trump’s approach: “A footnote but in his survey of a catastrophic world, Trump said nothing of the Rohingya. A silence that speaks volumes.” CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria wrote, two days after the event, that the President applied a blow to Pax Americana – “Trump did something unusual in his UN speech: He encouraged, even embraced rise of a post-American world” – and one of his responders on Twitter pointed out: “It’s called U.S. abdication. Abdication of normalcy, responsibility, leadership, world citizenship, national security, and decency.” And on the same day, Christiane Amanpour noted on her account: “’One nuclear crisis is already enough,’” the EU foreign policy chief @FedericaMog tells me, insisting the #IranDeal should not be dismantled.” Amanpour also obtained French President Macron’s view on the most important messages in Trump’s speech: “French President Emmanuel Macron firmly rejected any military solution to the North Korean crisis and warned against scrapping the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Hence, a multitude of reactions to Trump’s messages, making this a special UNGA session, and the upcoming international developments extremely important for systemic stability, requiring close watch. The first thing to watch for is also the closest and is not the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula but whether Washington will remain a party to the nuclear agreement with Iran.