President Trump’s UN General Assembly speech opened up with a familiar series of claims about how well the US is doing, bragging that the US stock markets are hitting record highs while parts of the world “are going to hell.”
The real meat of the speech, of course, came in a series of threats to take more hostile action against his many, many enemies. None among them was emphasized quite so much as North Korea, who President Trump said he may “have no choice but totally destroy.”
Having referred to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” on Twitter once, President Trump did so again, declaring “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able.”
Trump demanded that the UN Security Council come together and make more moves against North Korea, adding it “is an outrage” that any nations are trading with North Korea at all because of their “reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
In the course of criticizing North Korea, however, nuclear weapons were scarcely mentioned, beyond demands for denuclearization. Instead, he focused on the death of Otto Warmbier, and said of North Korea that “we know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.”
If that last part doesn’t sound familiar,it’s because it happened literally 40 years ago. Yokota Megumi was kidnapped from a beach in Nagata in 1977, one of 17 Japanese citizens taken around that time. Megumi was something of a cause celebre within Japan. North Korea reported she had taken her own life in 1994 and was suffering from mental illness at the time.
While an interesting historical story, President Trump suggested the kidnapping proved how “twisted” North Korea is, even though it happened years before Kim Jong-un was even born, back when his grandfather was still in power.
Trump’s comments, however, appeared less aimed at threatening North Korea than at threatening the UN with the total destruction of North Korea if they refuse US demands for ever more sanctions and blockades. Trump had already gone on record as saying he believed the recent UN sanctions were “nothing compared to what has to happen,” even though he praised Russia and China today for accepting them. It’s clear, however, he wants more.