“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,” US President Donald Trump said in his maiden speech before the United Nations General Assembly last Tuesday. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” he said, referring to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
His remarks surprised many world leaders gathered in the assembly hall. Minutes earlier, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had appealed for statesmanship in dealing with North Korea. “We must not sleepwalk our way into war,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, in his own UN speech, said France would not close the door to negotiations over the North Korea problem. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Walstrom said on Trump’s speech: “It was the wrong speech at the wrong time to the wrong audience.” In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said there must be a diplomatic solution. “Anything else would lead to disaster.”
One political observer in South Korea found it funny that Trump used virtually the same words the North Koreans have been using for decades. He said he expects North Korea to respond with “equally powerful, equally comical,” and “probably more ridiculous rhetoric.”
It is difficult to predict what will happen next on the world stage, in the wake of President Trump’s totally belligerent UN speech. It was in the same vein as his earlier warning to North Korea of “fire and fury like the world has never known.”
Very probably, North Korea will respond in kind and then fire another missile or two. It has never backed down in all the years since it fought the United Nations forces led by the US in 1950-53 and now it has long-range missiles that can reach the US mainland, apparently along with nuclear warheads.
The world hopes, and we fervently join in this hope, that all these threats from both sides remain just talk, and that all this while, men of goodwill are continuously searching for a diplomatic solution. For, as German Chancellor Merkel pointed out, anything else would be disaster.