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The Most Surprising Thing About Trump’s U.N. Speech

| Sep. 19, 2017

When you discount the rhetorical overkill, the most surprising thing about President Trump’s address to the United Nations on Tuesday was how conventional it was. He supported human rights and democracy; he opposed rogue regimes; he espoused a global community of strong, sovereign nations. Pretty shocking stuff. 

Because he’s Trump, the zingers got the headlines: He repeated his childish, snarky (but sort of funny) playground denunciation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission.” And he offered a bombastic threat that if North Korea attacks the United States or its allies, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy” it.

Okay, got that: It’s a restatement of the existing U.S. policy of nuclear deterrence. Trump also thanked China and Russia for their diplomatic help and pushed them to do more. He said the Iran nuclear deal was “an embarrassment” and Iran’s regional actions were a “scourge,” but he didn’t say he would tear up the deal. He appealed to the Iranian people, without exactly calling for regime change. He checked all the hard-liner boxes, in other words, without making any new commitments.

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For Academic Citation: Ignatius, David.“The Most Surprising Thing About Trump’s U.N. Speech.” The Washington Post, September 19, 2017.

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