President Trump didn't take long to fire back at his former political opponent Hillary Clinton, one day after his provocative speech at the United Nations that threatened North Korea's existence. In the early morning hours on Wednesday, Trump blamed Clinton for North Korea's nuclear program in a tweet insinuating that the former Secretary of State did not do enough when she was the nation's top diplomat. He posted that Clinton, who he again called "Crooked Hillary," is criticizing only now after "allowing" the country to "research and build" nuclear weapons.
He criticized former President Bill Clinton, too. "After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes," Trump's full tweet read. It was sent out at 6:40 a.m. ET, perhaps too early for his Chief of Staff John Kelly to try to persuade him against it as part of the "tweet vetting" he has reportedly put in place.
The Twitter attack came after Clinton went on The Late Show Tuesday night and spoke with host Stephen Colbert about Trump's UN speech, particularly the part about being willing to "totally destroy" North Korea. "I thought it was very dark, dangerous, not the kind of message that the leader of the greatest nation in the world should be delivering," Clinton told the late night comic, for whom Trump is also a regular target.
Clinton also explained what she would have said about North Korea, noting that diplomacy is the way to go in a situation like this one (not calling Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man"). "When you face dangerous situations like what is happening in North Korea, to make it clear, your first approach should always be diplomatic," Clinton explained. She said she would have said:
We view this as dangerous to our allies, to the region, and even to our country. We call on all nations to work with us to try to end the threat posed by Kim Jong Un, and not call him 'Rocket Man' — the old Elton John song — but to say it clearly: We will not tolerate any attacks on our friends or ourselves.
Clinton also explained that a speech at the UN should be an opportunity "to stand up for the values of what we believe in, democracy and opportunity" as well as "to demonstrate that the United States remains the beacon we want it to be."
Trump, on the other hand, issued more ultimatums. The one on North Korea was the strongest. As for Trump's allegations that the two Clintons are to blame, it doesn't really hold water. During the Obama Administration, Hillary followed the line of policy that President Obama would have set, and that wasn't ultimately so different than what we're seeing now: tough talk and sanctions. Obama tried to make a deal to pause the nuclear program, but it didn't work.
Former President Clinton's team also negotiated a deal with North Korea that ultimately failed. But it came a lot closer to stopping the advancement of nuclear weapons than anything the Trump Administration can point to. Clinton negotiated a deal with North Korea that kept the country from developing nuclear weapons from the Plutonium reactor that they had. In exchange for fuel oil and the construction of light water reactors for civil power needs, the country stopped their nuclear program.
It was likely not perfect, the country was thought to have cheated by the Bush Administration, but it kept the country from openly performing tests, which would have delayed any weapons development. Unfortunately, Bush ended the program, angering allies like South Korea and Japan. So if Trump wants to look to the past for blame, he might want to consider another president.