MAGA Man vs Rocket Man
Donald Trump’s maiden speech at the United Nations general assembly
In his address to the UN in New York on September 19, the U.S. President said the following:
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.
- The Guardian commented: “What was left, when the muted applause died down in the UN chamber, was a sense of incoherence and a capricious menace hanging in the air.”
- A day previously, on September 18, the New York Times reported (paywall) that U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the U.S. “had found military options to handle the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula that would not put the South Korean capital, Seoul, at grave risk, though he refused to elaborate on what those might be.”
- Reuters reports that China’s foreign ministry responded to Mattis’ comments by saying “military threats in words or in action… cannot promote and advance a resolution.”
- The White House has published a readout of a phone call between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on September 18.
- Xinhua News Agency has published a short report on the call with a slightly different emphasis.
They want to be capable of obliterating the city of New York
Andrei Lankov is one of the sharpest interpreters of North Korean government. He completed his graduate studies at Leningrad State University in 1989, attended Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung University in 1985, and wrote The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia which we recommended on our SupChina summer reading list earlier this year.
Lankov gave an interview to CNN about the possible results from informal backchannels between North Korea and the U.S., likely to be especially active during the U.N.’s general assembly. He is not optimistic:
- He says that Russia and China are coming close to “their own red line” concerning North Korea.
- On whether backchannel talks might have any chance of calming down tensions in Northeast Asia, he said: I don’t see these talks are going to bring about any result. The North Korean position is quite clear: First they want to be capable of obliterating the city of New York and the city of Washington a number of times. Once they are certain, they might be willing to start talking, but we cannot be sure.
I am back in earnest from a break from this newsletter, and ready to work on some exciting new SupChina projects this fall. Thanks very much to my editorial colleagues Kaiser, Lucas, Jia, and Jiayun for holding the fort.
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