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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 9)

2017/11/09 07:11

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US leader vows to force peace on rogue states

Oftentimes, the U.S. President Donald Trump is portrayed to be an insult to American intellectualism and a novice who doesn't fit the job he has. During his meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping last year, his role was reduced to that of a student. He was an ill-mannered personification of Yankeeism while meeting with European highbrowed leaders.

Call it the media's collective failure to see through his true colors or Trump's Cinderella moment, but Trump turned out a white knight during his speech at the National Assembly Wednesday, not just articulating what Americanism is all about but also how he wants to transform the world as the leader of the world's strongest nation.

It is worth naming the Trump Doctrine -- peace from a position of strength -- marking an end to the absence of a distinct foreign policy for the past eight years under President Barack Obama.

"The (North Korean) regime has interpreted America's past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation," he said. "This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past."

   During his address to the United Nations, he was quite clear about his intention to match peace with strength but his point was not taken by the media that focused on his provocative wording such as "totally destroy" the North.

Now, Trump stuck to the script and delivered the gist of his superior-power-based foreign policy in unmistakable terms. He didn't insist on American unilateralism in implementation.

"Today I hope I speak not only for our countries (the U.S. and South Korea), but for all civilized nations when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us. And do not try us," he said. It is about a building coalition. During the joint press conference after having a summit with his host President Moon Jae-in, Trump talked about Chinese President Xi Jinping's erstwhile efforts to resolve North Korea's nuclear and missile challenges, while alluding to Russia as a contributor.

Trump's coalition is not "of the willing" as George W. Bush tried in his unsuccessful post-9/11 war. Also unilateralism in President Bush's neo-con foreign policy was also missing, although American exceptionalism was present.

The absence of the Bush elements reflects a change of time. Bush served at the crest of American power after the demise of its rival Soviet Union and witnessed the slide of it. Trump enlists the help of others, raising questions about whether he is really an isolationist. The Trump Doctrine appears more positive than the Nixon Doctrine, which also represented a significant withdrawal from the world.

Now, it takes time to see the real shape and shade of the Trump foreign policy as he deals with the North. The success of this first test will influence whether the U.S. can reinvigorate its superpower status. Meanwhile, not just the North but Iran and Venezuela which Trump also targeted as rogue states during his U.N. speech should better expect Trumpian follow-up measures.