By Olivia Pierson
Not in my adult life have I ever heard a leader from any country address the state of our world so unambiguously as President Trump did in his address to the United Nations today.
Not only did he show he understands the world in which we live, but also the world of yesteryear which we commonly call ‘history’. His speech was a rallying call to independent sovereign nations to govern well with the goal of human flourishing in mind.
Human flourishing as a result of good government can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and their early examples of self-rule from within their independent city states - poleis. The relationship between man and his polis is what we term the political.
In 340 BC the Athenian philosopher Aristotle wrote in his great work Politics (his book about man’s relationship to the polis):
“One who is incapable of participating or who is in need of nothing through being self-sufficient is no part of a city, and so is either a beast or a god.”
Aristotle also wrote:
“The state comes into existence for the sake of life and continues to exist for the sake of the good life.”
Of course, our world is no longer just organised into separate city states but into nations made up of states, cities and towns and villages. President Trump stated to the delegates of our world’s political leaders:
"The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members. To overcome the perils of the present, and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity, and peace, for themselves and for the world. 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.”
“To respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.” Are these not the core tenets of what was originally called the League of Nations which eventually was reborn into the United Nations?
President Trump’s spectacular speech went on to call out the four nations which most egregiously abuse these core tenets: North Korea (under the Kim “Rocket Man” regime ruled by a beast who demands to be worshiped as a god), Iran (ruled by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who rules in the name of a god), Syria (ruled by the savage beast Assad) and Venezuela (ruled by the socialist beast Maduro). We know that other regimes which are ruled by beasts also are members of the United Nations - to name a few: Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe. Considering the human rights abuses within these listed nations, the United Nations is widely viewed as an irrelevant, international joke. A joke until a powerful leader as serious as President Trump comes to speak before it, for it is highly doubtful that he will keep the status quo everyone is used to.
North Korea is terrorising its neighbours, Japan and South Korea - both strong U.S allies, with constant near-miss missile launches and threats of annihilation. As the rogue regime gets closer to having nuclear ICBM capability the beast-god Rocket Man makes threats to Americans and also Australians. So not only does he treat his own citizens with brutality and murder, he is making threats to annihilate other sovereign nations. It is very likely that if he acquires the nuclear capabilities of his choice, Kim will seek to unify the whole Korean peninsula into his anti-life regime. This is why nobody should be even uttering the idea that the world has to get used to North Korea becoming a nuclear power… they’re likely to use it to take South Korea.
Incase anyone mistakes the notion of a reunified Korea for being similar to the reunification of Vietnam, remember that after a bloody war where over 2 million people died, communism swallowed South Vietnam whole and 2.5 million Vietnamese refugees fled by boat rather than stay to face a life under communism. If there is to be a reunification of the Korean peninsula, it has to be on the terms of South Korea, not North Korea, which will be impossible if North Korea sits on nukes.
This is why President Trump said this in his speech - and rightly so:
"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.”
It is clear that President Trump has a quiet hope that war may not be necessary, that instead, by imposing heavy sanctions where the rogue regime is left to self destruct in isolation, America’s allies may be spared from its hostilities. But this only works if the United Nations gets as serious as he is about the actions (and inactions) which enable such regimes (including Iran):
“And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threatens us with chaos, turmoil, and terror. The scourge of our planet today is small regimes that violate every principle that the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. 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.”
This is clearly a Trumpian paraphrasing of Edmund Burke’s “All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”
And never a truer word has been spoken!
The United Nations and all their member states, whether they be run by actual human beings or run by beasts, or would-be gods, have been put on notice by the most powerful man in the world. A man who thoroughly understands what old Aristotle knew - that the state comes into existence for the sake of life and continues to exist for the sake of the good life.
In the tradition of the early presidents who came long before him, President Trump lay out the case for nation states to be grounded in the statesman’s task of helping to create the good life. One of those great presidents, Thomas Jefferson, once built upon the echo of Aristotle’s wisdom when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…
In stark contrast to the (dis)abilities of his feckless predecessor, President Trump took a very statesmanlike stand in nobly exhorting modern world leaders to consider just what they exist in leadership to accomplish.