Wednesday, 8 November 2017

USA President Trump's address to South Korean assembly takes tough line with North Korea but, thankfully, avoids very harsh threats used earlier

I saw the whole video of USA President Trump's address to the South Korean National Assembly in Seoul on 7th Nov. 2017. In this post, I would like to focus on the part related to the tension between, on one side, USA and its ally, South Korea, and, on the other hand, North Korea, and on some general remarks about the extraordinary material progress made by South Korea. However, I have to say that the entire speech seems to give a clear view of how the Trump administration views North Korea, including the history of USA's involvement in the Korean peninsula and the Korean war, from the early 1950s, and some very harsh criticism of North Korean govt. policies towards its citizens. Note that USA has a military presence in South Korea right from the early 1950s Korean war period - that comes to nearly seven decades!

Here is the video I saw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hofQ3iwZ1E, 35 min. 39 secs.

And here's the transcript of the speech from the White House website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/11/07/remarks-president-trump-national-assembly-republic-korea-seoul-republic.

Given below are a few extracts from Mr. Trump's speech (I have tried to omit Trump's criticism of North Korean policies towards its citizens):

This alliance between our nations was forged in the crucible of war, and strengthened by the trials of history. From the Inchon landings to Pork Chop Hill, American and South Korean soldiers have fought together, sacrificed together, and triumphed together.

Almost 67 years ago, in the spring of 1951, they recaptured what remained of this city where we are gathered so proudly today. It was the second time in a year that our combined forces took on steep casualties to retake this capital from the communists.

Over the next weeks and months, the men soldiered through steep mountains and bloody, bloody battles. Driven back at times, they willed their way north to form the line that today divides the oppressed and the free. And there, American and South Korean troops have remained together holding that line for nearly seven decades. (Applause.)

By the time the armistice was signed in 1953, more than 36,000 Americans had died in the Korean War, with more than 100,000 others very badly wounded. They are heroes, and we honor them. We also honor and remember the terrible price the people of your country paid for their freedom. You lost hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers and countless innocent civilians in that gruesome war.

Much of this great city of Seoul was reduced to rubble. Large portions of the country were scarred -- severely, severely hurt -- by this horrible war. The economy of this nation was demolished.

But as the entire world knows, over the next two generations something miraculous happened on the southern half of this peninsula. Family by family, city by city, the people of South Korea built this country into what is today one of the great nations of the world. And I congratulate you. (Applause.) In less than one lifetime, South Korea climbed from total devastation to among the wealthiest nations on Earth.

Today, your economy is more than 350 times larger than what it was in 1960. Trade has increased 1,900 times. Life expectancy has risen from just 53 years to more than 82 years today.
...
Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets. In addition, we have nuclear submarines appropriately positioned. The United States, under my administration, is completely rebuilding its military and is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to the newest and finest military equipment anywhere in the world being built, right now. I want peace through strength. (Applause.)

We are helping the Republic of Korea far beyond what any other country has ever done. And, in the end, we will work things out far better than anybody understands or can even appreciate. I know that the Republic of Korea, which has become a tremendously successful nation, will be a faithful ally of the United States very long into the future. (Applause.)
...

To this day, it [North Korea] continues to launch missiles over the sovereign territory of Japan and all other neighbors, test nuclear devices, and develop ICBMs to threaten the United States itself. The regime has interpreted America’s past restraint as weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. This is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past.

Today, I hope I speak not only for our countries, but for all civilized nations, when I say to the North: Do not underestimate us, and do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty.
...
America does not seek conflict or confrontation, but we will never run from it. History is filled with discarded regimes that have foolishly tested America’s resolve.

Anyone who doubts the strength or determination of the United States should look to our past, and you will doubt it no longer. We will not permit America or our allies to be blackmailed or attacked. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not be intimidated. And we will not let the worst atrocities in history be repeated here, on this ground, we fought and died so hard to secure. (Applause.)

That is why I have come here, to the heart of a free and flourishing Korea, with a message for the peace-loving nations of the world: The time for excuses is over. Now is the time for strength. If you want peace, you must stand strong at all times. (Applause.) The world cannot tolerate the menace of a rogue regime that threatens with nuclear devastation.

All responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea -- to deny it and any form -- any form of it. You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept. We call on every nation, including China and Russia, to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions, downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology.

It is our responsibility and our duty to confront this danger together -- because the longer we wait, the greater the danger grows, and the fewer the options become. (Applause.) And to those nations that choose to ignore this threat, or, worse still, to enable it, the weight of this crisis is on your conscience.

I also have come here to this peninsula to deliver a message directly to the leader of the North Korean dictatorship: The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.

North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves. Yet, despite every crime you have committed against God and man, you are ready to offer, and we will do that -- we will offer a path to a much better future. It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable, and total denuclearization. (Applause.)
...
This Korea stands strong and tall among the great community of independent, confident, and peace-loving nations. We are nations that respect our citizens, cherish our liberty, treasure our sovereignty, and control our own destiny. We affirm the dignity of every person and embrace the full potential of every soul. And we are always prepared to defend the vital interests of our people against the cruel ambition of tyrants.

Together, we dream of a Korea that is free, a peninsula that is safe, and families that are reunited once again. We dream of highways connecting North and South, of cousins embracing cousins, and this nuclear nightmare replaced with the beautiful promise of peace.

Until that day comes, we stand strong and alert. Our eyes are fixed to the North, and our hearts praying for the day when all Koreans can live in freedom. (Applause.)

Thank you. (Applause.) God Bless You. God Bless the Korean people. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)
--- end extracts from USA President Trump's speech ---

Ravi: I am so glad to see that there were no "totally destroy" threats against North Korea by President Trump. But Trump does use very strong words against the North Korean regime in his criticism of their policies.

Overall, I think there is a possibility of peace that is being offered here. But only if North Korea does denuclearization, which seems unlikely. Even if there is no peace deal in the offing (some back channel talks are reported), at least there is no war talk. That is a big relief.

I pray to Almighty God for peace to be maintained between North Korea and USA + South Korea.

I would also like to say that from my stay in Seoul for a couple of months in the early 90s, I agree with the words given in above extracts of President Trump's speech about the extraordinary material progress made in South Korea. Then it was a flourishing and prosperous city with Korean companies like Lucky-Goldstar (LG) and Samsung having big buildings in Seoul showing how big they already were internationally even in the early 1990s. [BTW the computer monitor in my home-flat in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, India, that I am using to compose this post is from Samsung. My nearly decade old TV, which I don't use nowadays but is still functional, as well as my USB DVD writer which I use when needed, are from LG!] Today's Seoul, I am quite sure, would be order of magnitude times more prosperous than the early 1990s Seoul that I experienced.

[I thank USA President Trump and whitehouse.gov and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their speech transcript/website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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