Seized of the Matter

Rich Galen
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Posted: Sep 22, 2017 12:01 AM
Seized of the Matter

Here's an insight for you: What you thought of Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week was directly related to what you think of Donald Trump.

To that end, it was almost impossible to read a truly unbiased review of something of which I have only the barest understanding: foreign affairs.

I am not the most ardent fan of the United Nations. Nor, am I the most ardent fan of Donald Trump. But, I'm not at all certain I would be any happier - or even as happy - if there were no UN and if Hillary Clinton were POTUS.

The UN, which was founded in San Francisco on June 26, 1945 has 193 members. North Korea is one of them (and has been since 1991). Switzerland only became a member in 2002.

On September 11, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley got the Security Council to unanimously adopt a resolution against North Korea in which the UN condemned

"in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on September 2 of 2017 in violation and flagrant disregard of the Security Council's resolutions."

DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea - North Korea's official name.

The nine-page resolution is, of course, nothing more than the international community wagging its collective finger under the nose of Kim Jong un. The final clause in the resolution reminds Kim that the United Nations Security Council "remains seized of the matter."

In UN-speak that must be the diplomatic equivalent of pointing two fingers at your eyes, and then pointing them at the person you're going to be watching.

Although, "I'm remaining seized of you, Sparky," doesn't carry the threat weight you might have been looking for.

There is a link to the text of that resolution on the Secret Decoder Ring today. If you've never read one of these, you should. It's almost poetry. If you do read it, you'll see what I mean. 

Donald Trump's speech included his new pet name for Kim Jong Un: "Rocket Man." There are a lot of descriptive, disruptive, and disrespectful names Trump has dreamed up for people he doesn't like. "Rocket Man" is a swing-and-a-miss.

He couldn't call the North Korean "Bad Hair Kim" because … 

In any event, resorting to a school yard taunt to refer to the head of a whole country - even one with really bad hair - reflects at least as badly on Trump as it does on Kim.

On the other hand, Trump made some legitimate points. The United Nations has not been a particularly efficient arbiter of differences between nations. In fact, there is little the U.N. has in its toolbox between a Security Council Resolution - which may or may not be binding under international law - and sending out armed troops in blue helmets which would appear to be the antithesis of why the U.N. exists in the first place.

The Charter begins with the goals:

"To maintain international peace and security … [and] to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends." 

CNN's review of the speech included Trump's vow to: "'totally destroy North Korea'" if the US and its allies were forced defend themselves."

Kind of "red-line-ish" but decades and decades of tsk-tsking have not had the desired results on the Kim dynasty in North Korea.

Trump also called Iran's government "a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy," and the Venezuelans (again, via CNN) a "corrupt regime" that has "destroyed a prosperous nation by ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried." 

The ideology to which Trump referred is Socialism about which he said: 

"The problem with Venezuela, is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented." 

While Trump might have been waiting for the assembled delegations to break into a chant of "Lock Them Up! Lock Them Up!" the response was described by the U.K. Independent as "an awkward silence."

But, to borrow the words of Bill Maher, he wasn't wrong.

I don't know how hard Ivanka, Jared and Gen. Kelly might have argued against the "Rocket Man" taunt, but it was only two words out of a 41-minute speech.

Like most of his Presidency, it's not so much the policy that bothers me, as the presentation.

I remain seized of the matter.

To all who are observing Rosh Hashanah, have a happy, healthy 5778.