What a shame that the NFL controversy over the American national anthem drowned out what should have been US President Donald Trump’s shining moment on the world stage as he delivered one of the most powerful speeches on foreign policy the famously amoral body has ever heard.
Last week the world’s leaders gathered for the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations. What they and millions of onlookers around the globe were looking for was what the famously outspoken president would say in his first address at the UN. What they got was a brilliant and decisively moral speech emphasizing how the United States would no longer tolerate the belligerency of rogue nations.
In the run-up to the speech multiple diplomatic crises had converged in a frightening fit of concurrent escalation. North Korea was upping the stakes in a nuclear game of chicken with the US, conducting its fifteenth illegal missile test this year just last Friday – this time, firing a rocket right over Japan.
Twelve days prior it tested what appeared to be a hydrogen bomb, invoking a new wave of UN sanctions. Following that, official representatives of the apparently irate Kim Jong-un claimed that America, or the “rabid dog” to use their preferred term, needed to be “beaten to death” and “reduced to darkness and ashes.” And all this was before Kim Jong-un referred to Trump as “a mentally deranged US dotard,” causing people all over the Internet to look up the meaning of “dotard.”
The world’s other nuclear menace, Iran, seemed to be charting its own crash course with the US, one that though subtler is just as dangerous.
Less than two years into the disastrous nuclear deal signed by president Barack Obama, Iran already seems to be violating its barely-extant side of the agreement. Israeli intelligence appears to have learned that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors were denied entry into a critical Iranian military installation and didn’t bother getting into a number of other sites of suspected nuclear research and development. Trump has better intel than we do, and he seems to agree. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump declared that Iran had “violated so many different elements” of the deal that the US would no longer “stand for what they’re doing.”
With a deadline for Iranian sanctions relief coming up this October, many had come to believe that Trump might just scrap what he called “the worst deal ever.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded just a few days ago with the not so veiled threat that Iran would “react swiftly” to an American nixing of the deal. Apparently trying to intimidate the US, he added that “if the US wants to increase the tensions, it will see the reaction from Iran.”
And with all this circling, Trump was set to give his first address to the global community.
It was as though the world itself had set a momentous stage for the American president.
Trump offered a speech of moral clarity, unequivocal in its denunciation of the world’s most evil regimes. In some of the strongest terms available to a head of state, Trump went after what he called “the scourge of our planet” – the cynical, violent band of “rogue regimes” known more specifically as North Korea and Iran.
These regimes, he appropriately pointed out, “violate every principle on which the United Nations is based,” respecting “neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.”
North Korea is a country that has brutalized its citizens, starving them for years while diverting resources to its military and a nuclear program which, as Trump pointed out, “threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of life.”
Trump employed the green marble rostrum of the UN to issue a threat that was in no way veiled: if forced to defend itself or its allies, America would “be left with no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
“Rocket man,” meaning North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and his “band of criminals,” as Trump unaffectionately called them, were embarking not on a quest for nuclear power but a “suicide mission.”
Trump would later be criticized for engaging in a war of words with Kim. But it was a relief to finally hear a head of state speak with candor about the evil that the North Korean government represents and the extreme dangers of allowing rogue regimes to acquire nuclear weapons.
Iran, too, was finally called out by the American president as an “economically depleted rogue state” whose financial woes were best explained by the fact that their “chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.” He was referring of course to the blind-to-blood murderers Iran funds and fields in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and – to the most horrific effect – Syria. Beyond being the greatest destabilizing force in the Middle- East, Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.
Added to the mix is the classic authoritarian ingredient: the fact Iran not only suppresses its citizens’ freedoms, but will actually shoot them in the streets, as the world witnessed in the 2009 Green Revolution.
Our president made it clear that the American people would not be fooled by the “murderous” regime’s “false guise of democracy.”
Trump, instead, betrayed their true governmental bloodtype: that of the “corrupt dictatorship.”
Trump then turned to the Iran nuclear deal. Again, he chose to unmask it for the farce it is, calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” and, more succinctly, an “embarrassment to the United States.” He threatened that with a re-ratification deadline less than a month away, “I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it – believe me.”
The denunciation of rogue states is rare to non-existent in the halls of the UN. The UN has embarrassed itself as it repeatedly morally equivocated on brutal governments and terrorists regimes. Trump upended the UN’s pathetic apathy, demanding and delivering a decisive moral code for the members of the global community to follow. He made it clear that overall support from the US to the UN would be dependent on the UN charting a new course, hopefully one where terrorist- funding “rogue nations” like Iran, and not democracies like Israel, become the target of the UN’s wrath.
In Trump’s own words, “If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.” The world got off to something of a start as its most powerful man decisively proved himself a leader among the righteous many.
I watched as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised President Trump’s speech as the boldest he had ever heard at the UN. The president had made it clear that the American tolerance for evil regimes like North Korea and Iran had reached its limit. As a Jew, I felt gratitude.
As an American, I felt pride.
The need for leaders to identify and confront evil was established by Winston Churchill when he stood atop his own historical podium in the bleakest moments of World War II.
There, he stared down the evil of Nazism as he delivered his famous “Fight Them on the Beaches” speech following the Dunkirk evacuation. He spoke without ambiguity of the existence of true wickedness, calling his German foes “a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.” He told the free world, gradually rallying behind him, that even in the face of such a powerful enemy they dare not abdicate their “duty to defend the world cause to which we have vowed ourselves.”
With leaders from around the globe in New York for a new session of the UN, a body founded in the aftermath of Nazi evil, we can only hope that President Trump’s colleagues will follow his bold words and stop criminal regimes before they claim countless more innocent victims.The author, whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America” is the founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 31 books, including, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.