President Donald Trump told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning that the U.S. would “stop radical Islamic terrorism,” employing a phrase that his advisers have tried to discourage him from using in the past.
On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump attacked the Obama administration and his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for refusing to refer to radical Islamic terror in an attempt to appease the Islamic world (while at the same time denying that there was anything authentically Islamic about self-proclaimed Islamic terrorists).
However, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is known to discourage the use of the phrase, and Trump did not use it in his speech on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks last week.
But Trump returned to form at the UN:
In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.
We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.
We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.
The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.
In his address, Trump defended his philosophy of “America first,” explaining how it was compatible with America’s international leadership by advocating a world of “strong, sovereign nations” living in harmony while also retaining their own identities and responding to the needs of their own citizens before others.
He also warned North Korea: “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
He challenged the UN to pressure North Korea: “The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do. It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.”
Trump also had strong words for Iran. “The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy,” he said, slamming the regime for exporting terror and warning that the U.S. would terminate the Iran deal — “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” he said.
He also told the UN General Assembly that the U.S. would retain sanctions against the Cuban regime, and would continue to pressure the Venezuelan regime. In what was perhaps the most memorable line of the speech, Trump said: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”
International human rights lawyer and frequent UN critic Anne Bayefsky told Breitbart News that Trump’s speech was good — but that one weak point was his insistence on UN reform, which lacked concrete commitments.
“The speech was excellent, but the question is now whether this administration has a serious intention to follow through. So-called reform is a wasteland and a diversionary tactic — driven by the UN — that will take the president way off course,” Bayefsky said.
“Serious change can happen now and any kind of UN timetable is a recipe for disaster. Resigning from what he pointed out was a disgraceful Human Rights Council can be done today. Refusing to certify imaginary Iranian good behavior in its obvious pursuit of weapons of mass destruction can be done now.
“In contrast to the UN, the President will be judged by deeds and not words alone.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.