Editorial Roundup: Destroy North Korea Edition

This week editorial boards across the country again criticized Trump’s behavior and reckless foreign policy that was on full display during his speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Amidst yet another hurricane laying waste to Puerto Rico, another devastating earthquake in Mexico, and Senate Republicans reanimating Trumpcare to devastate Medicaid and strip coverage from 32 million Americans, Trump managed to march America closer to conflict with juvenile name calling, and editorial boards took him to task.
Here’s what editorial boards across the country had to say:

Tampa Bay Times: U.S. Needs Tax Reform, Not Tax Cuts For The Wealthy
President Donald Trump is in a big rush for Congress to approve big tax cuts, and he is using the damage left by Hurricane Irma to argue his case. One has nothing to do with the other, except for their negative impact on middle-class Floridians. The nation needs tax reform, but not tax cuts for the wealthy that would sacrifice popular tax deductions and raise the federal deficit.

Los Angeles Times: Amidst The Worst Refugee Crisis In History, Trump Would Be Heartless To Turn Away The Desperate
War, political instability and persecution around the globe have sent more people – about 66 million – running for their lives than at any other time in modern history, surpassing even the upheaval of World War II. The number, though, obscures the scope of the human drama — masses of people of all ages seeking distant shores in unseaworthy boats, trekking across deserts or jungles to reach dusty and overcrowded tent colonies or, for the lucky, squatting uncertainly in apartments in strange cities, their futures at best on hold, at worst already disappearing.
Despite the growing accumulation of human misery, the Trump administration is reportedly considering an even more cold-hearted response: reducing for the second straight year the number of refugees the U.S. will accept annually for permanent resettlement. To do so would be a further repudiation of the nation’s moral tradition of offering a haven to those who have no chance of a future in their home countries.

Toledo Blade: Diplomatic Bumbling Makes Things Worse

The United States, unfortunately, has two dogs in the fight, one on each side. Apart from the question of principles as a reason for support, Qatar hosts the largest American air base in the region. It includes the U.S. command center of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia hosts important U.S. bases. The headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet is in Bahrain, and all of the countries involved in the spat buy large quantities of expensive U.S. arms. Mr. Trump, in not telling the Saudis to leave Qatar alone, either forgot the U.S. assets in Qatar, was unaware of them, or thought wrongly that the Qataris would knuckle under easily to Saudi pressure.

The problem continues, has been made worse, and now needs to be fixed.

Middletown Times Herald-Record: Congress Rebukes Trump on Race

It is remarkable that in the 21st century Congress would feel the need to remind an American president that the legislative body “rejects White nationalism, White supremacy, and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.” And, that Congress would feel the need to urge the president to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy.” And, that the administration should use its resources to “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Trump Finally Finds A Way To Alienate Even His Base

Many supporters replied that, yes, in fact, they do want to kick the Dreamers out.

It’s remarkable that those who have supported Trump through so much else — his talk of groping women, his racially charged rhetoric, his serial falsehoods, his lack of legislative accomplishments, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the hiring of Anthony Scaramucci, and so much else — might finally part ways with him over … allowing 800,000 young people to stay in the only country most of them have ever known.
The president now faces an acid test: Will he do what’s right, or what his most loyal backers prefer? Perhaps even he doesn’t have any idea.

Baltimore Sun: Trump At The UN

Mr. Trump’s staff has sometimes managed to keep him on track on signal occasions such as tomorrow’s speech, or at least minimize the damage he might do his own or the country’s credibility. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor turned U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, seems to have a keen appreciation for the atmospherics the situation demands, and we trust she and others will seek to steer the president away from the mocking, derisive rants he is prone to whenever he goes off script. Perhaps he should endeavor to say as little as possible in any case and let his aides tackle the big problems quietly behind the scenes. There’s no question the UN can and should play an important role in mediating a way through our current dilemmas and that it must do so no matter what Mr. Trump says.


Chicago Sun Times: Trump ‘Sovereignty’ Call Sounds Like Code For Intolerance

But if Trump is proposing “sovereignty” as the north star that guides our nation’s foreign policy, beware of where that leads. Respect for the sovereignty of other nations can become an excuse to look away from human rights violations around the world. A fear of loss of sovereignty here at home — as absurd as that notion is — already has become an excuse for turning away refugees, banning Muslims and wholesale deporting undocumented immigrants.

The more paranoid protectors of American sovereignty fear — or so they say — that Spanish will one day become the first language of the nation and the Sharia Law will supplant American justice. They are also, it is important to note, mostly Trump supporters.

Baltimore Sun: Who’s The Madman, Kim Or Trump?

Mr. Trump seems to ascribe to the theory that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (or “rocket man,” as the president has taken to calling him) only understands threats and only responds to force. There is, of course, no evidence that he or any of his predecessors has been cowed by such tactics. But even if Mr. Trump is right, he has dangerously escalated his rhetorical war by threatening not just the Kim government or the North Korean military but the entire nation and its 25 million people. Heaven forbid, should we ever find ourselves in military conflict with North Korea, President Trump has made the fight all the more difficult and dangerous by proclaiming that our aim would be not just regime change or an end to the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs but what sounds an awful lot like genocide.


Newark Star-Ledger: The Trump Policy Toward North Korea Is Largely Irrational

North Koreans may not get cable, but its leaders aren’t deaf.

They have seen Muammar Gaddafi scale back on his nuclear programs, only to be overthrown. If Trump withdraws from the Iran agreement, why would Kim believe it’s in his interest to negotiate his way out of this confrontation with the U.S.?

It would take a skilled diplomatic effort to square that circle, but Trump has no such aptitude, and he also mocks the UN’s aims for multilateral solutions to the planet’s problems. To fully understand where this is headed, consult your worst nightmare.

East Bay Times: Really? Trump’s Plan Is To Wipe Out 25 Million People?

Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong Un have been trash-talking for some time now about North Korea’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. But Trump raised the ante in his U.N. speech when he said that the “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

Just prior to that statement Trump said, “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.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Set aside for a moment the name-calling, which is a Trump trademark. There is no mistaking the intent here. The president was not talking about regime change. Or sanctions. Or international pressure. He was talking about launching an attack designed to wipe out 25 million people.

Los Angeles Times: Trump Gives The World A Needlessly Offensive Campaign Speech At The U.N.

Much of what President Trump said in his much-anticipated first address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday was directly on point. He was right to demand that the U.N. do more to address violations of human rights, violations of national sovereignty and acts of terrorism. He was also on solid ground in much of the criticism he leveled against North Korea and Iran.

But Trump undermined the effectiveness of his message with the bombast, boastfulness (“Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been”) and illogic he displayed on the campaign trail. There were also gratuitous insults, including a simplistic denunciation of “socialism” likely to offend many of the countries he implored to “confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil and terror.”

North Jersey Record: Trump Sets A Hard Tone Before The U.N.

Trump said, “We meet at a time of immense promise and great peril.” We agree. But it is incumbent upon a U.S. president to navigate these dangerous waters with agility, not brute strength. U.S. presidents as far back as Theodore Roosevelt understood that great military power was best used as a negotiating tactic to achieve a diplomatic solution. We are not sure the current president understands the difference.

Trump intends to leave his mark on U.S. policy — domestic and international. That is his right. But he has a responsibility as well: to leave the United States and, if possible, the world in better shape than they were when he took office.

The president said that in the United States, “the people rule.” True enough. But the U.S. president leads. And we are not sure we are heading in the right direction.

San Francisco Chronicle: Trump’s Nationalism Invites Disaster

Trump’s targets are all undeniable problem areas that carry harm for both the U.S. and other nations. A presidential reminder of the stakes can be clarifying.

But his harsh words and pointed refusal to invoke the United Nations as a solution and by extension all negotiations and partnerships underscores the reckless nature of his shortsighted appeal. This country can’t hope to solve its worldwide problems by pushing past other nations and slamming down solutions that won’t work.

Raleigh News & Observer: Trump’s U.N. Speech Huffs and Puffs

Alas, the president could not resist a boastful, threatening speech reminiscent of his bombast on the campaign trail. He threatened the “total destruction” of North Korea should that nation and its peculiar leader, Kim Jong Un, not stop the drive toward nuclear weapons.

A get-tough approach on North Korea and calling for support from other nations is appropriate, but the president shows his utter lack of savvy about foreign affairs in talking about “total destruction.” North Korea is close to Russia and China, and any kind of “total destruction” would also create millions of casualties in South Korea. Trump even tossed in his favorite moniker for Kim Jong Un, “Rocket Man,” a nickname more appropriate behind the closed doors of the Oval Office than the headquarters of the U.N.

Arizona Republic: Donald Trump’s Border Wall Isn’t A Solution. It’s A Slogan

Building a wall between the United States and Mexico over-simplifies complex issues. It cuts deep into our national identity. It invites unintended negative consequences.

As a political slogan, it was powerful for Donald Trump.

As a practical strategy, it falls far short of the kind of thorough approach necessary to deal with decades of inaction on immigration reform.

Americans need to take a hard look at the facts and consider the bigger picture.


Baltimore Sun: Alternative Fact of The Week: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Mr. Trump’s brag about job growth earns Alternative Fact of the Week honors not just for being false (and easily proven so) but for the consistency with which he has demonstrated a reckless disregard for the truth of the matter. As early as Jan. 24, Mr. Trump bragged about adding 48,000 jobs by approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which is a pure fantasy. The numbers are more likely a tenth of that or less. On Aug. 30, he bragged about 3 percent quarterly GDP growth that the previous administration “never hit” but failed to mention a 3.6 percent growth in the gross domestic product as recently as the third quarter of 2016. He claims a massive resurgence in coal mining jobs, but that hasn’t happened either.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Tough Talk: Trump’s U.N. Address Rattled, But Also Reinforced

He continues to have a problem playing it straight. The most egregious of his inflammatory rhetoric was his reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man.” On the subject of North Korea’s nuclear program and threats, Mr. Trump asserted America’s ability and willingness to “totally destroy” the country. Given that nearly everyone agrees that talks are the only way to deal with the North Korea problem, talks that would include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea as well as the United States and North Korea, it would have improved prospects for eventual success in such talks for Mr. Trump to have dealt with the subject seriously, instead of with a throwaway line. Total destruction of North Korea would also certainly mean total destruction of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The Seoul metropolitan area has 26 million people.

Orange County Register: Mr. President, Please knock Off The Juvenile Tweets
Giving his opponents derogatory nicknames has been Trump’s stock-in-trade since he started campaigning, and it worked for him on that stage. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that this is part of a good-cop bad-cop strategy, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson taking the more diplomatic approach.

But the retweeted video about Clinton, and earlier Twitter exchanges like the one the president had with the hosts of “The Morning Joe” show, just make the president look small. It’s dispiriting to those who like to think of the presidency as an office of some dignity — which the U.S. people deserve — and not a showcase for a reality-TV dude.

Scranton Times Tribune: Trump Nukes Deterrence

Trump appears not to have considered what withdrawing from the Iran agreement would signal to North Korea, and to allies that Trump is trying to enlist to rein in North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Kim already is belligerent and unpredictable. What incentive would he have to negotiate an Iran-like deal to suspend nuclear weapons and missile development if the United States trashes the Iran agreement? Why would China answer Trump’s call for help on North Korea if Trump abandons China and the other partners in the Iran deal?

Deterrence requires a consistent, coordinated effort by the partners who have worked out the Iran agreement, in which Trump should maintain the United States’ involvement.