Editor’s note: I’m both happy and terrified to bring this title back
by Michael Jack O’Brien
Where should one even start? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but tracking Donald Trump’s antics is not comical. There’s no humor or joy in this job; no, documentation of this man is more akin to tracking a natural disaster than a rational acting human being. After almost a full year of Donald J. Trump as president, news fatigue is in full force as it seems that not even Trump himself knows what will happen next: Robert Muller continues his investigation into obstruction of justice claims, Republicans attempt to kill Obamacare for the umpteenth time this week, hurricanes battered the United States and Puerto Rico, Jared Kushner is using private email servers, oh and also, he’s a woman according to his voting records.
Some of Donald Trump’s most concerning actions come in the form of his foreign policy, which, much like the man himself, is brash, clumsy, and oftentimes shortsighted.
For example, as the pioneer of Twitter diplomacy, Trump has decided to instigate a pissing contest with one of the world’s most dangerous dictators, Kim Jong Un, over a series of missile tests launched by North Korea over the Sea of Japan. As tensions rose over the ensuing weeks, Trump and Kim Jong Un exchanged middle school playground level insults with each other, seemingly ignoring the fact that both countries have the potential to cause the death of human civilization.
The insults don’t stop on Twitter, however, as just this week Trump addressed the UN General Assembly in New York with the similar fiery and oftentimes ominous wording he uses in his tweets. During his address, Trump took time to boast about everything from jobs to the stock market, claiming that after his election, American economic growth had “skyrocketed” (whether he deserves credit for this is unimportant to Trump). He goes on to address the North Korean nuclear threat, claiming that while The United States hopes for a peaceful resolution to this conflict, The U.S (or just Trump) has no reservations about completely obliterating the eastern hemisphere; “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”. He goes on to call The Glorious Leader by his trademark insult “Rocket Man”, stating that Kim Jong Un is on a “suicide mission for himself and his regime”. While it is highly unlikely that petty insults will spark nuclear war, it is nevertheless disconcerting that Trump uses such abrasive rhetoric when the true threat of the DPRK regime is yet to be fully analyzed. After the speech, North Korea responded with their own slew of insults, calling Trump “mentally deranged” and stating that a “frightened dog barks louder”, a quite candid statement coming from one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world.
While Trump’s statement on North Korea is certainly exciting to analyze, the president addressed a wide range of topics in his address. Much of the speech is spent lambasting authoritarian “rogue states”, with special attention given to Iran.
“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 violence, bloodshed, and chaos.”
Iran has been a constant, borderline obsession for the first term president, perhaps because of his searing criticism of the Iran Nuclear deal, a negotiation which Trump calls one “of the worst and most one-sided transactions” made by the Obama administration. It should also be noted that Trump is a staunch supporter of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival and adversary.
Lastly, despite the numerous threats no world security, Donald Trump reminded the United Nations of his “America First” policy, stating that “I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people where it belongs. In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty.” This statement stands in stark contrast to the Obama administrations UN remarks, which were more often centered around unity and cooperation. It is clear that Trump believes the United States has been “unfairly burdened” financially and militarily in the protection of world security. Despite the US being the world’s only hyperpower, in his address the president urged the other nations of the UN to show more dedication in fighting threats such as authoritarianism and “radical Islamic terrorism”.
In short, the president’s UN address was much a reflection of himself. While certainly more professional than previous public speeches, it is clear that Trump’s foreign policy is less a coherent strategy than an amalgamation of several personal convictions on the state of the world. A sense of disorder is palpable, one can only hope that the experts surrounding him can assist the president in creating a more coherent foreign policy; perhaps one that doesn’t include social media.