Foreign Policy

'Do Not Underestimate Us'

Trump's speech in South Korea was a welcome show of strength toward belligerent North Korea.

Nate Jackson · Nov. 8, 2017

President Donald Trump is making the rounds in Asia this week, and he gave an important speech to South Korea’s National Assembly Wednesday morning. “Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us,” Trump warned an increasingly belligerent North Korea. “We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred Liberty. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground we fought and died so hard to secure.” Furthermore, he declared, “The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.”

Trump didn’t just promise to defend U.S. interests and allies, he took aim at Kim Jong-un’s regime in other ways. “North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned,” Trump said to Kim. “It is a hell that no person deserves.” He also took on the Kim regime for its human rights abuses, using words like “fascism,” “cult,” tyrant" and “sinister.”

It’s hard to overestimate how unusual it is for anyone to speak so forcefully against North Korea from just across the border in South Korea. Trump’s words were a strong message in the face of communist tyranny, and a welcome sign of strength for U.S. foreign policy.

Next up is continuing to deal with China. Trump went from Seoul to Beijing, where he is reportedly expected to push China to cut financial ties with North Korea.

Trump made an effort to honor Chinese President Xi Jinping even while preparing to challenge him — honor is an important thing to keep in mind in Asian cultures. “I want to just say that President Xi … has been very helpful,” Trump said. “China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea.”

In reality, of course, as Mark Alexander wrote in September, China is “using the Kim/NoKo nuclear threat as a king pawn to protect their own trade and foreign policy interests.” In other words, China benefits from keeping North Korea as a bargaining chip and insurance against economic action the Trump administration might take against China. The American Leftmedia continue to push the narrative that China is doing all it can, but the reality is Beijing is using Pyongyang’s saber rattling to its advantage.

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