September 20, 2017
It's been called everything from a "well-cooked pudding" to a "shotgun marriage." But there's one word no one is using for Donald Trump's U.N. speech -- and that's "timid." After eight years of diplomatic pleasantries, Americans finally exchanged their apologist-in-chief for a frank and fearless leader. Jaded by two terms of nuance and ambiguity on the global stage, voters wanted a president who wouldn't mince words. And yesterday, Donald Trump did not disappoint.
"For Americans," Ambassador John Bolton explained, "plain speaking is still a virtue. And there was a lot of plain speaking in that speech." For once, voters have a president who doesn't use the global stage as an excuse to bludgeon his own country. They have a man proud enough to fight for America's best interest. To the relief of most voters, the days of weak-kneed posturing are over. "Thank God," Rev. Franklin Graham cheered, "we have a president who is not afraid to speak truth to the whole world." Or to embrace the values that made America great.
"Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God... In America," Trump went on, "the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs. As long as I hold this office, I will defend America's interests above all else."
In soundbite after refreshing soundbite, President Trump made it clear that his biggest goal is protecting America – not propping up a global body that's failed to affect change in this volatile new world.
"The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all. Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism... If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength."
Then, in his most quotable line of the speech, Trump fired his own shot across the bow at Kim Jong-un:
"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. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That's what the United Nations is all about; that's what the United Nations is for. Let's see how they do."
If that offends the Left's sensibilities, let it. As the Wall Street Journal argues, "Traditional diplomacy isn't getting through to Mr. Kim and his entourage, or their patrons in Beijing. After years of Barack Obama's niceties that ducked the problem, maybe the world needs to be told some unpleasant truths about an evil regime with a weapon of mass murder and the means to deliver it."
In a major departure from the last administration, Trump not only used the words "Islamic terrorism," he threatened to destroy it. "We cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.... We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people."
In a slap at the foreign policy of the Obama administration, he called the Iranian nuclear deal "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into." It was, he insisted, "an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you've heard the last of it -- believe me." But, he went on, the crisis created by terrorists -- the genocide of religious minorities – doesn't mean that Americans should have to bend their rules or sacrifice their safety to respond benevolently.
"The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort. We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process. For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region. Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach."
Finally, in a swipe at the U.N., Trump vented about the lack of return for America's hefty investment in the body. "The U.S. is just one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it." We want -- and deserve -- a "much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world."
And that includes, as his administration has openly advocated, a return to the defense of international religious liberty. Our State Department must lead the way by returning priority to the human right of religious freedom. Only then can America be the voice for the voiceless that the world expects and deserves. In the words of the president, we look forward to a new chapter with our global neighbors, where "We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.