Trump Hits Home Run for America in UN Speech

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

President Trump gave his first official speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning, and was immediately berated by the New York Times (Trump's "characteristically confrontational message") and the Washington Post ("Trump's menacing United Nations speech, annotated"). Sen. Dianne Feinstein lambasted him for words that  "greatly escalated the danger" from Iran and North Korea. And the foreign minister of Venezuela's socialist dictatorship, Jorge Arreaza -- apparently trying to formulate some sort of supreme insult -- compared Trump in 2017 to President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

With that kind of reaction, you might just start to suspect that Trump did something right.

Actually, Trump got it very right. In a forum accustomed to diplo-fictions and the dignifying of dictators, he hit a home run for America.

An important bit of context here is that while the procession of speeches at the UN General Assembly's annual opening every September is officially dubbed the "General Debate," it is not actually a debate. It is not as a rule a forum for to-and-fro, in which the fine points of policy are hashed out. As far as that happens, it goes on behind the scenes. The General Debate is a presentation of messages; a parade before the huge golden backdrop of the UN's General Assembly chamber, in which for the better part of a week a series of senior envoys, ranging from heads of state to ministers, deliver remarks.

From many of the speakers, at a UN where the majority of the 193 member states are not free, it's a performance rich in platitudes, prejudice and propaganda for consumption by captive populations back home -- a polysyllabic porridge, in the UN tradition. What's relatively rare is plain-spoken truth.

So, by UN standards, Trump's speech certainly did not fit in. But by American standards, he told some extremely important truths, including his observation that "America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall."

He spelled out, quite accurately, that "the scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based."

In particular, and in detail, Trump called out the rogue states of North Korea and Iran. He did not follow a script of pollysyllabic diplomatic enumerations of unacceptable activities. He reminded the UN members of Pyongyang's "deadly abuse" of American student Otto Warmbier. He talked about North Korea's kidnapping of a Japanese 13-year-old girl "to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies." And he cited "the assassination of the dictator's brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport."