Trump’s U.N. Speech: 10 Important Moments

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Trump preparing to speak at the United Nations. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

 

President Trump’s speech at the United Nations is being rightly praised, with some even saying it is his best speech as commander-in-chief so far. Unlike the 9/11 addresses where the Trump Administration omitted any reference to radical Islam, this speech punched at the Islamist ideology and was also a powerful, pro-American presentation to the world.

There are 10 sections of special importance:

 

1.WE’RE BACK TO DISCUSSING ISLAMISM

President Trump twice mentioned the ideology of Islamism in his address after his administration—in a clearly coordinated decision–omitted any mention of radical Islam in its 9/11 anniversary addresses. The shift is widely attributed to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Trump said,

“All responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them. We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.”

We don’t know if this change is due to a personal redirection by President Trump or the result of delegation of duties with senior adviser and chief speechwriter Stephen Miller playing more of a role in the UN address.

 

2.A BROADER APPROACH TOWARDS THE “LOSER” ENEMY

President Trump signaled a broader approach towards the Islamist ideology and its adherent jihadist groups. In listing these enemies that must be defeated, he included Hezbollah and the Taliban. These are very important inclusions, as it contradicts the previous approach of trying to reach a peace accord with the “moderate” Taliban and Hezbollah.

“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.

“The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.”

The description of the enemy as losers is more than Trumpian smack-talk. The Islamist ideology depends upon the perception of success for survival.

Trump made a strong case that they are going downhill.

 

3.AN IDEOLOGICAL ASSAULT ON THE IRANIAN REGIME

Those who accuse President Trump of sounding like a war-mongering imperialist heard or read something different than the audience in the room. When he blasted the Iranian regime, he got his biggest applause line of the day.

“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy…

“…The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protesters and imprison political reformers.

“…Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous again?”

The positive language is simply too much to quote in a single article. Trump zeroed in on the critical point that every penny spent by the Iranian regime on its nuclear program—or on terrorism—or on its rulers’ own comfort—is a betrayal of the Iranian people and the Persian legacy.

Now, the question is what the Trump Administration will actually do to throw the Iranian regime into the dustbin of history where it belongs, given his staunch opposition to regime change strategies.

 

4.THE IRAN DEAL IS ALMOST DEAD

Get ready to stick a fork in the Iran deal. It’s almost dead. U.N. Ambassador Haley said Iran has undeclared and uninspected nuclear sites and the administration “has grounds” to declare Iran in violation. Israel claims that the IAEA is not inspecting suspected secret nuclear sites.

And then Trump said this:    

“We cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, the deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it—believe me.”

 

5.LETTING THE SUNNI STATE SPONSORS & MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD/HAMAS OFF THE HOOK

As was the case in his speech in Riyadh, the Sunni state sponsors of Islamist extremism got off easy. Notice the language in the UN speech about the Sunni Arab governments and the lack of any criticism of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing. In Saudi Arabia earlier this year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.”

It’s time for a wake-up call: The radical Islamic terrorists are inspired by the Islamist extremism promoted by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni Arabs. As bad of an actor as the radical Shiite regime of Iran is, only about 20 percent of the Muslim world is Shiite. The terrorists loyal to ISIS and Al-Qaeda—those who pose the biggest threat to the American homeland (by far)—are Sunni.

Saudi Arabia remains the “chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism” in the West. Qatar is a top financier of Islamist terrorism. Turkey is a state sponsor of the ideology and adherent jihadists like Al-Qaeda and its ruling dictator can arguably be titled as the “King of the Islamists.”

Notice that the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian wing, Hamas, were missing from the list of terrorist groups to defeat. That is no accident. There are reasons that happened.

The Trump Administration has backed away from confronting the Qatar-Turkey-Muslim Brotherhood axis under Secretary of State Tillerson. The Qataris’ hiring of lobbyists close to Trump’s inner circle probably has something to do with it, as well.       

 

6.PRO-SECURITY, PRO-REFUGEE

President Trump stood his ground on his policy reducing the acceptance of refugees while rebutting the anti-American propaganda and political partisans who depict this policy as unloving, anti-Muslim and brutal. 

“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 financing assistance to hosting countries in the region…This is the safe, responsible and humanitarian approach.”

Trump then made the argument that accepting refugees is damaging for the conflicted countries because it “drains them of the human capital” and decreases pressure on the offending regimes. In fact, it rewards those who have made the conscious decision to create the refugee crisis.

 

7.NORTH KOREA

It’s the line that everyone is talking about:

“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 … That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.”

Make no mistake about it: The North Korea crisis overlaps with the war on radical Islam, especially when it comes to the links between the North Korean and Iranian WMD programs.  

If one looks at the actual word usage, this was actually the opposite of the critics’ false characterization that Trump was acting like a nuke-wielding bully. The language was purely defensive in nature and put the ball in the court of the United Nations and the unnamed countries who commit the “outrage” of arming and trading with the North Korean regime. If there is a war, it is the fault of North Korea, the regime’s backers and facilitated by a dysfunctional UN and not the U.S.

Trump and his speechwriters wisely devoted the bulk of his comments on North Korea to the regime’s transgressions against its own people, in line with a strategy I advocated for and dubbed, “They Provoke, We Expose.”

 

8.TYING VENEZUELA’S DICTATOR TO HIS SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY

The Venezuelan dictatorship originally established by Hugo Chavez and now overseen by Nicolas Maduro has long supported Iran-backed terrorist operations.

It has likely given passports to Islamist extremists. The U.S. government sanctioned Venezuela’s Vice President for being a drug lord with suspected ties to terrorists. This activity has led to calls for Venezuela to be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

President Trump blasted Maduro’s dictatorship and threatened undefined American action while explicitly describing the Venezuelans’ hardships as an inevitable byproduct of socialism and communism:

“We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people…

“…The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.”

9.THE UN MUST ACKNOWLEDGE ITS SHORT-COMINGS

It sounds like he’s getting ready to save the American taxpayer some money.

“It is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council. The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more … The United States bears an unfair cost burden.

He pointed out how undemocratic governments are able to “subvert this institution” and “hijack” its power for their interests that undermine the founding purpose of the UN.

10.OUR IDEOLOGY WILL WIN WITHOUT US IMPOSING IT

President Trump masterfully threaded the needle when it came to the line between promoting our Western secular-democratic ideology—a necessity in a global ideological war—without sounding imperialistic or unwilling to work with undemocratic partners. That is not an easy thing to do.

He said that the U.S. is “guided by outcomes, not ideology” and do not wish to impose our way of life on others—but you can defend and you can promote our ideology so people voluntarily adopt it incrementally and in a way customized for their societies.

Every policy position correctly presented the U.S. as the inherent ally of freedom fighters against imperialism; the polar opposite of what the Islamist ideology and anti-American propagandists characterize us as. For instance:

“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.”

Trump followed that with the most robust defense of the United States’ ideology and moral conduct in recent memory on the world stage, while reasserting that we will always stand with the oppressed. Here’s a sampling:

“We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution—the oldest constitution still in use in the world today. This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe …

“Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall … It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to impose our way of life others …

“One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was ‘effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.’

“That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

“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 a revival of their spirits, their pride, their people and their patriotism.”

Now that is an example of how you fight an ideological war.

 

RELATED STORIES

Trump at the UN and Team America

Trump’s UN Speech Got Us Thinking…

Free Raif Badawi: Plea at UN Human Rights Council

 

Ryan Mauro
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.