After assuming what seemed like a more optimistic tone toward the possibility of opening diplomatic channels with Kim Jong Un’s North Korean regime from Tokyo, President Trump reverted to a more aggressive stance when speaking before South Korea’s National Assembly in Seoul on Tuesday.
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. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.” The president said to North Korea during his speech.
The president is currently amid an Indo-Pacific tour aimed at improving relations with Pacific nations while applying increased pressure on North Korea. A number of military drills are scheduled to coincide with Trump’s visit, including a massive show of force including three Nimitz class aircraft carrier strike groups, and another set of drills intended to prepare to intercept any future shipments of nuclear materials headed for North Korea.
President Trump went on to use some of the strongest language yet, when characterizing North Korea as a threat to the stability not only of the region, but of the world, including a reference to the line between North and South Korea serving as a metaphorical line between what effectively amounts to good and evil.
It is the line between peace and war, between decency and depravity, between law and tyranny, between hope and total despair. It is a line that has been drawn many times, in many places, throughout history. To hold that line is a choice free nations have always had to make. We have learned together the high cost of weakness and the high stakes of its defense.”
The president’s statements seemed more akin to those made after a declaration of war, rather than during an ongoing effort helmed by his own state department to begin diplomatic efforts intended to avoid armed conflict.
We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. 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.
That is why I have come here, to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea, with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.”
The president then called on all “responsible nations” to further isolate North Korea, asking that nations stop all import and export trade with Kim’s regime, citing China and Russia specifically in the statement. Both nations have publicly walked the line between outspoken support for Kim Jong Un’s regime and maintaining the appearance of responsible nations on the geopolitical stage. Russian president Vladimir Putin recently told the press he want to see an end to sanctions levied against North Korea, and China has continued to accuse the United States of being too aggressive toward the developing nuclear state despite Kim’s threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes. Both nations, meanwhile, have continued to see increased trade with North Korea despite UN sanctions.
And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat, or, worse still, to enable it, the weight of this crisis is on your conscience.”
At that point, the president chose to direct his statements specifically at North Korea, rather than the world at large, delivering a threat to Kim Jong Un, but tempering it with stern, if not unlikely, requisites for peace.
I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.
North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves. Yet, despite every crime you have committed against God and man, you are ready to offer, and we will do that — we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization.”
Image courtesy of the Associated Press