Take it easy, you want to advise President Donald Trump when he says in a United Nations speech that the United States is going to “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacks us or our allies. But there is something you want to add.
Don’t take it as easy as presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, who irresponsibly set us up for long-lasting intimidation, still more nuclear proliferation and the increased possibility of a nuclear holocaust down the road.
It was 23 years ago that President Bill Clinton got news that North Korea was working on nuclear weaponry. He immediately moved to get more military forces in Asia and impose tough U.N. sanctions, but former President Jimmy Carter intervened. He convinced the White House to let him have limited discussions with the North Koreans and dishonestly went beyond those limits to work out a hopelessly naive deal actually assisting the nuclear ambitions.
Clinton reluctantly said OK. President George W. Bush made no meaningful moves to toughen things up. And President Barack Obama? He endorsed a few aggressive moves that mostly went away after he was diplomatically duped. He preached “strategic patience.”
So here we patient Americans stand. North Korea has bombs that could take out cities, it is flying missiles over Japan, and it very likely has or will soon have the ability to hit our mainland. Its leader is a murderous fanatic apparently convinced his regime is done for if he backs up.
In response, Trump has accomplished a lot. He has obtained some truly consequential U.N. sanctions and surprising sanctions cooperation from China. Trump himself issued an order saying we’d do financial damage to any foreign firm facilitating trade over there.
Yes, Trump’s words about total destruction went way, way too far, as much as implying genocide in the minds of some. But he at least was not talking about doing this in response to mere threats, as some news outlets unbelievably and inaccurately said, but to actual attacks forcing us to defend ourselves. The underlying message was this: Take us seriously. That is important, although the best way to avoid a war that could kill hundreds of thousands of South Koreans is for China to impoverish North Korea to the point of regime collapse.
Trump also discussed the Iran deal in which we and other nations said put off developing your own nukes for a while and we will end sanctions and let you keep using nuclear power. Oh, by the way, we also said, here are billions of dollars we want to return to further enable the financing of terrorists, the testing of missiles and the building up of your military.
In his speech, Trump called this arrangement an “embarrassment,” and it truly is, especially when you understand that it was largely sold on the admitted lie that we were getting cozier with Iran and could eventually expect firm friendship. The hate-mongering and evil wishes directed at us and Israel have not ceased.
Withdrawing from the deal with Iran would not work, however, because it could set off more immediate dangers. What we have lately heard from Trump is something else. As he has said since the speech, he wants to sit down for some new negotiations that could just possibly make everyone safer. Don’t count this out.
Listen to the Trump speech and you may wish the wording were different and the self-contradictions weren’t there. But he was correct in hitting U.N. bungling and saying nation states are a good. The globalism he’s against is the mindless utopianism saying do away with sovereignty and borders. He does in fact want the U.N. to fight for the right and bring peace and harmony to the world.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at email@example.com.