President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday morning and his speech has gotten mixed responses from the legacy media. Stories about Trump’s UN speech have primarily focused on President Trump’s strong warnings towards North Korea, his insistence on placing America first, and his repetition of his newest nickname for North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un:  Rocket Man. These aspects certainly make President Trump’s speech stand out from previous speeches given by United States Presidents at the UN, which is certainly not a bad thing. President Trump struck the perfect tone with his speech, despite whatever his critics might have you believe.

A Call for Sovereignty

To start, President Trump was right to tout his “America First” agenda, and he was correct when he pointed out that every other representative there was obliged to put their own countries first. To pretend that leaders shouldn’t do so is nothing more than globalism and President Trump, by focusing on sovereignty and self-interest, has sent a clear message to those who would seek to make leaders put the needs of others ahead of the needs of their own country. This is a marked departure from President Obama’s appearances at the UN, during which he often seemed conciliatory. By refusing to make any sort of apologies and by explicitly calling for patriotism, President Trump is being anything but.

Trump’s attitude leaves him holding all the cards, which will ultimately help him reshape the UN, and that is obviously his goal—Trump says that he wants the UN to be a better investment for the US, considering that we’re paying 22% of their budget on our own. As he said, “the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity. Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.”

Trump Understands Asian Diplomacy

While some were frustrated by Trump’s unashamed lobbying for the United States, his rhetoric about North Korea has earned several times more ire, with CNN calling his speech “pugnacious” and his message a “doomsday warning to North Korea.” This reaction is to be expected from legacy media sources—as we previously reported, studies have shown that a vast majority of the evening news coverage involving President Trump has been negative. What the legacy media is failing – or refusing – to grasp is that diplomacy in Asia is often conducted through strongman posturing. It is not the style we are used to in Western democracies, but to use the polite negotiation style that we employ when dealing with Europe would be completely ineffectual. President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Barrack Obama all attempted to use the polite, hands-off, wait-and-see diplomacy technique, and all failed miserably.

President Trump did not mince words when he said “No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.” He recognizes that North Korea is not our friend, nor are they truly anyone else’s, and nor will they be. Their constant escalating threats and their recent development of stronger nuclear arms are proof of this. As President 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.” Given Trump’s pattern of behavior so far, this threat holds much more weight than the threats given by previous presidents. Had those words come out of President Obama or President Bush’s mouth, the North Koreans would surely disregard them. Trump has yet to back down and he has shown himself more than capable of following through on his threats.

North Korea needs to be threatened. They need to know that they will lose and that their stalling tactics will no longer buy them the time to develop a strong enough nuclear deterrent to attack South Korea without reprisal. Should we leave them to their own devices, there will come a day in which Kim Jong Un decides to point his arsenal at the United States so that he can conquer his neighbors as he pleases. In such a situation we would be forced to respond anyway, or we would risk doing serious damage to the world’s perception of the United States. We cannot be seen as a country that allows our allies to be attacked without at least trying to protect them. Should this most desperate of situations arise, we may see the first offensive usage of a nuclear weapon since World War II. By playing the strongman, Trump is trying to out-posture Kim Jong Un and prevent such a disaster.

Using Strategic Branding as a Tool

As part of this posturing strategy, President Trump has started to call Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man”, a nickname that Trump first floated on Twitter before doubling down and using it in his UN speech. This is no real surprise, as Trump is fond of coming up with new nicknames for his opponents. This is not much different from when he called Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” or Marco Rubio “Lil’ Marco”. By branding his opponents and refusing to honor them with their title, or even their real name, Trump makes a joke out of them and he demoralizes not only said opponents, but also those sympathetic to those opponents. Kim Jong Un wants to go toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful countries in the world and that requires him to be taken seriously, but how could one take him seriously if he just becomes Rocket Man? The imagery at play makes one imagine Kim Jong Un as an unruly child that wants to play with big kid toys, and it’s exactly the kind of thing President Trump needs to do when dealing with others in the political strongman category. No one wants to be allied with an unruly child, and if Trump can make it so that North Korea’s few “friends” abandon them then it will be all the easier to remove them as a threat.

In a short 45 minute speech, Trump was able to begin the process of altering the UN into a more sovereignty focused organization and he did severe damage to North Korea’s reputation. It seems like a war with North Korea may be on the horizon, but it is better to wage that war now than to let North Korea develop yet another more powerful nuclear weapon, and it will be an easier war to wage with the help of a strengthened United Nations.