In reviewing President Trump's address to the United Nations on Tuesday, most commentators have focused on the direct warning to "totally destroy" North Korea unless they change their policy of nuclear aggression against the United States and its allies. I believe the additional parts of the speech are equally or more important than the condemnation of North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and radical Islamic terrorism.
The address set out two additional themes or policies that set out the fundamental beliefs and policies that will govern American conduct of foreign policy going forward. The first key theme is a rejection of the "New World Order" first annunciated by President George H.W. Bush, and followed by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. That "New World Order" envisions all countries as an inseparable part of the entire global community, where the national interest of any state, especially the United States, has to be put aside for the good of the entire planet. This is often referred to as "Liberal Internationalism".
Trump makes it clear that the United States is now rejecting this international idea. Instead the U.S. will recognize all nations as sovereign, protecting their own people, and standing up for our values of freedom and sovereignty to protect that freedom. In fact, the other nations of the world have never abandoned their sovereignty and are advancing their nations at the expense of the liberal-led West. In fact, the idealistic idea of a world government and world order has failed -- it is time to recognize this and act accordingly.
But the address is not a simple reaffirmation of "America First." It is a recognition that all nations operate that way. That is stated in plain terms. Trump simply acknowledges reality, and call for an acknowledgement that the world is made up of "proud independent nations": In rejecting the "New World Order," Trump calls for "a reawakening of nations."
The second major portion of the address is the rejection, and a willingness to confront the alternative government being offered to the world by the socialist nations who reject the Western ideas and construct of freedom. Authoritarianism and totalitarianism are re-emerging in the world after the U.S and its allies defeated it in World War II. Socialism is the economic doctrine to extinguish liberty. Trump specifically rejects socialism and the failed doctrine that it is, and says the socialist idea has failed everywhere it has been tried, creating misery for those on whom it is imposed.
The address is an announcement that socialism is not just another doctrine that is just as good or better than economic liberty. Socialism is a doctrine that must be rejected and defeated wherever it tries to emerge. This is also a domestic warning in the U.S. too, as extremists on the Left continue to push socialism in our own country.
Finally, the address applies the overall Trump Doctrine to specific challenges facing our country, which usually dominate the headlines without any sense of world context. The president confronts the aggressive actions of particular countries who seek to upset the international order of freedom so carefully built and defended since World War II. Trump said that the threat of North Korea will not be tolerated. If they don't remove the threat themselves, we will totally destroy North Korea. This warning cannot be misunderstood. Would an American president stand in front of the entire U.N. and make an empty warning? One must assume he means it.
These remarks, which at first seem to be directed to North Korea, I believe are really directed towards China, and also Russia, Iran, and others who seek to bring down the Western Order of liberty. If China is using North Korea to test American resolve, this speech makes it clear that pawn will be removed from the board of the "Great Game" for the future of mankind. If the North Korean people are destroyed, the blame rests with the Chinese, who are using them to test the resolve of the West.
Likewise, the Iran nuclear deal traded temporary avoidance of war with Iran for the long-term certainty of an Iran with nuclear weapons, with certain consequences in the Middle East and the world. In light of the continued aggression of Iran, using terrorist organizations to destabilize the world order, a nuclear Iran cannot be permitted to happen. This is why the Iran deal cannot stand.
The president also warned that we cannot stand by and allow Cuba to destabilize Venezuela, and create a dictatorship in our own near-hemisphere. This is certainly a reaffirmation of the Monroe Doctrine that has prevented Latin America from becoming a tool of European and Asian nations in the great power struggle that exists today.
The United Nations was established in the hope that it would serve to avert World War III. In a very real sense, we are already in World War III, a global struggle of power and ideas for the future of the world. This war is not yet a nuclear exchange, although North Korea says that they are willing, even anxious, to engage in such a conflict. Nuclear capability in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere creates the certainty of nuclear blackmail as an instrument of foreign policy of our adversaries. If unchecked, that nuclear blackmail will provide an umbrella for the continuation of the global conflict that is now underway, until a shooting war breaks out, at a moment at our disadvantage.
Russia in the Ukraine and Crimea, China in the South China Sea, Iran in Yemen and throughout the entire Middle East and beyond -- by all their actions they are engaged in a third World War. This speech by President Trump acknowledges this reality and states clearly that the West will not go quietly, and that freedom will be defended. The speech states that the last chance for peace rest in those who would change the world order by force. This speech may be last chance to end this war peaceably.
Only American resolve and that of its allies creates the chance for peace. The hour is late, but not yet too late.
Jim Gilmore (@gov_gilmore) was governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002 and chair of the Republican National Committee in 2001. He ran for president in 2016.
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