President Donald J. Trump’s speech to the United Nations was one of those moments that will be a landmark in his administration. It was a great example for Americans, and the world, to understand how President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE intends on implementing his America First foreign policy and works as a roadmap to understand the future in the context of the Trump Doctrine.
When one looks back at prior presidencies, they were defined by both their speeches and actions as leaders.
Like President Bush, President Trump has given a number of prominent speeches on foreign policy, but Tuesday’s speech brought the America First foreign policy into focus with his most high-profile foreign policy address to date.
The Obama Doctrine was harder to discern. Writing for the Heritage Foundation in 2010, Kim Holmes and James Carafano provided a view of the Obama foreign policy:
“President Obama may have coined the phrase that best characterizes this doctrine in a speech in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2009. He said that America would reach out to other countries as ‘an equal partner’ rather than as the ‘exceptional’ nation that many before him had embraced. During his first meeting with the Group of 20 economies in Europe, Obama went further, saying that he does believe in American exceptionalism, but ‘just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.’”
The Obama foreign policy ran away from the idea of America First as a foreign policy goal. Just as Obama was defined by speeches, some commentators will provide an instant analysis of Trump’s address to the U.N. as the final definition of his foreign policy.
But President Trump, in his own words, will define the Trump foreign policy. The speech itself, not the instant interpretation of the many Trump detractors who will spin the remarks, will define the Trump presidency to Americans who listened to the speech unfiltered. For instance, as expected, many in the media are denouncing President Trump showing strength by referring to the North Korean dictator as “Rocket Man.” Yet Trump is right to use this tactic to demean a foreign leader who is in need of being treated as an outcast by free nations.
I was with Donald Trump when he gave hundreds of speeches on the campaign trail, but I consider this address to the U.N. to be one of his, if not the, best.
President Trump explained that:
“In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign. I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs. In foreign affairs we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty. Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens.”
This is a view that is the opposite of the Obama Doctrine in that Trump believes in American exceptionalism and in his duty to protect the United States.
Trump provided some tough talk Tuesday, in stark contrast to President Obama’s worldview. Trump spoke of “rogue regimes” who “don’t respect the rights of their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.” He called on the “righteous many” to confront the “evil few” to prevent evil from triumphing. Trump used the “depraved regime in North Korea” as an example of a rogue regime that needs being opposed by “decent people and nations.” If not opposed, “they will gather power and strength.” These remarks are a great example of strong world leadership that is much needed today.
Trump showed that he was not afraid to take on North Korea’s oppressive regime. He referenced the abuse of American citizen Otto Warmbier, who was ultimately killed by the North Korean regime.
Trump referred to the assassination of “Rocket Man’s” half-brother in an international airport. Trump talked of the kidnapping of a 13-year-old Japanese girl by the North Koreans as another example of the warped policies pushed by the North Korean dictator.
He made the case that it is “reckless” for other nations to trade and support a “band of criminals” who are threatening a “suicide mission” that will lead to the annihilation of his regime and country. Trump called on the United Nations to take actions to avoid that outcome and to denuclearize North Korea.
Trump made a strong case that “it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous and secure.” Trump articulated that the United States does not expect “diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government.” Yet it is reasonable to “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."
North Korea is not respecting the rights of other nations when they fire missiles over the territory of Japan and threaten the United States with nuclear war.
President Trump was very presidential Tuesday. He explained an America First policy in stark and clear terms and it will be a signature moment in the Trump administration as he continues to act upon the Trump Doctrine. Never was such a doctrine more necessary than it is now.
Corey Lewandowski served as a former campaign manager to Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. He is senior adviser and a spokesman for America First Action. Follow him on Twitter @CLewandowski.