In his maiden address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump sounded like a warmonger before representatives of 193 governments as he threatened to “destroy North Korea” and called the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran “an embarrassment” to the United States, thus disregarding the opening speech of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who had put “nuclear peril” as the world’s main threat, as he warned that “we must not sleepwalk into war”.
As leader of the world’s most influential nation, and the strongest democracy, Mr Trump was expected to outline a vision for peace within the binding constraints of our times. But he ended up using language that wasn’t heard even at the height of the Cold War or during the Cuban missile crisis as the US and the (erstwhile) Soviet Union stood eyeball-to-eyeball on the nuclear threshold.
North Korea is a very serious issue and diplomacy in tackling it, that has remained moribund for years, offers the only realistic answers, although diplomacy in today’s world will be tough going as America’s comprehensive power has decreased and that of China and Russia, specially when taken together in the context of a range of issues, has enhanced.
Iran shouldn’t be clubbed with North Korea. Tehran is challenging the US push into parts of West Asia, along with Russia. Its contention with Washington is one of showing power in a specific region. This doesn’t mean Iran is a threat to the world, as Mr Trump would have us believe. And the 2015 agreement showed US maturity at that time; it wasn’t an embarrassment.