WASHINGTON – President Trump mentioned the word sovereignty 21 times in his address to the United Nations Tuesday, but said little about Russia’s efforts to seize parts of Ukraine, piece by piece, and threaten other neighboring states.
Instead, Trump reserved his most defiant rhetoric for North Korea and its rapid nuclear weapons buildup, that includes a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile that has the potential capability of reaching U.S. territories and the United States mainland itself.
If a nation’s sovereignty is as important to a peaceful world, as Trump rightly maintains, how can he give a pass to Vladimir Putin’s seizure and annexation of the Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula?
And, more recently, the Kremlin’s provocative actions near the Baltic states and elsewhere in Eastern Europe under the guise of “military training exercises.”
To be sure, the North Korean threat poses a serious threat to the U.S. and our allies, but Trump has already sent a message that even a megalomaniac like Kim Jong Un understands.
Yet, just in case he doesn’t, Trump upped the ante in his U.N. speech, declaring that if Kim dared to strike the U.S. or its allies, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
It was the kind of pugilistic, tough guy language that his political base loves, but repeating it over and over risks losing its impact on our North Korean adversaries.
But Trump was also intent on selling his “America first” agenda — the paramount political war cry in his campaign — though his explanation of what that meant got a little muddled in his prepared remarks.
“American First” in the run up to World War II were the people who wanted us to stay out of the war, and let our allies fight it out on their own.