From compliments from his admirers to denouncements from global leaders and critics, president Donald Trump's speech at the United Nations has received a litany of reactions. Trump's first major speech at the United Nations was delivered on Tuesday in New York City where he criticized the North Korean regime, lambasted the Islamic Republic of Iran, and boasted of domestic job creation as well as other self-proclaimed successes. Among those reacting to his speech was Hillary Clinton who told Stephen Colbert she wishes Trump had handled North Korea differently. Clinton spoke with the TV show host on The Late Show and explained why she personally thought the president could have dealt with the North Korea question more responsibly.
"Did you happen to see the president's speech at the UN today?" Colbert asked the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. "I saw parts of it, yeah," Clinton responded, "I thought it was very dark, dangerous, [and] not the kind of message that the leader of the greatest nation in the world should be delivering." Clinton went on to say, "You are required to stand up for the values of what we believe in — democracy, opportunity — as a way to demonstrate clearly that the United States remain the beacon that we want it to be."
Clinton said that being mindful of foreign threats to the sovereignty of the United States was critical but Trump's hostility was, she thought, the opposite type of foreign policy the country should be adopting. "While of course when you face dangerous situations like what is happening in North Korea, your first approach should always be diplomatic."
What I hoped the president would've said was something along the lines of, 'You know, we view this as dangerous to our allies, to the region, and even to our country. We call on all the 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 clearly we will not tolerate any attacks on our friends or ourselves.
A president should, Clinton told Colbert, "lead with diplomacy, lead with the commitment to try to avoid conflict however you can."
During his speech, Trump openly and vociferously threatened to attack North Korea and its citizens. Paraphrasing the president's speech may not deliver the intensity of his remarks. In a remarkably grim point during his address, Trump not only threatened to annihilate the entire North Korean population for the hostility its leader has exhibited, but he also referred to Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man" in a seeming attempt to sound edgy. He went on to indirectly express wonder at what the UN would do in the scenario of escalated aggression from North Korea.
"The United States has great strength and patience," Trump bellowed to his audience, "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 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."
Clinton wasn't the only public official to denounce the president's fiery address on Tuesday. Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif said, "Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times, not the 21st century UN" and that it was "unworthy of a reply." Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said, "[Trump's] speech was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience" while Venezuela's foreign minister Jorge Arreaza simply said, "Trump is not the president of the world. He cannot even manage his own government."