Hillary Clinton has branded Donald Trump’s speech to the UN “dark and dangerous” after the President threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea.
Mr Trump gave his first ever address to the body on Tuesday in a strident performance that crystallised his “America First” stance, while taking tough lines on the governments of North Korea, Iran and Venezuela.
He told delegates in New York: “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. Rocket man [Kim Jong-un] 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.”
Ms Clinton, the vanquished Democratic nominee for President in 2016 and former Secretary of State, told chat show host Stephen Colbert: “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.”
She added: “You are both required to stand up for the values of what we believe in—democracy and opportunity—as a way to demonstrate clearly the United States remains the beacon that we want it to be, while of course when you face dangerous situations, like what is happening in North Korea, to make it clear your first approach should always be diplomatic.
“What I’d hoped the President would have said was something along the lines of, ‘We view this as dangerous to our allies, to the region, and even to our countries. 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. You should lead with diplomacy.”
During his speech Mr Trump did, however, praise Russia and China for joining in the imposition of sanctions on Pyongyang and said it was “time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behaviour”.
And on Wednesday morning, he tweeted in response to the clip: “After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes.”
He also retweeted a message from a supporter that said: “Obama and Clinton in effect gave nuclear weapons to North Korea by their policy of appeasement.”
Mr Trump appeared use his speech, a clear enunciation of his “America First” policy, to signal the US would take a step back from global leadership. It would no longer pay to maintain the military and diplomatic influence it has wielded since the middle of the last century, he said.
“The United States will forever be a great friend to the world and especially to its allies. But we can no longer be taken advantage of or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return,” Mr Trump said, calling for other countries to take responsibility in upholding “respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture”.
Mr Trump complained that the US “bears an unfair cost burden” in supporting the UN.
He continued: “For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success.
“But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.
“Others gamed the system and broke the rules, and our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.
“While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government, the duty of our citizens.
“This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today. If this organisation is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the independent strength of its members.”
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