There was a time when pariah leaders used the opening of the U.N. General Assembly as a platform to spout all kinds of hateful nonsense. Qaddafi, the former leader of Libya, delivered a 100-minute address in 2009 in which he described the Security Council as a “terror council,” called for an investigation into JFK’s assassination, and referred to Barack Obama as “our Obama.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran would regularly use the General Assembly to assert that the U.S. did 9/11 and to chastise Western countries for their “obedience to Satan.” Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in 2006 memorably also brought up Satan, comparing him to George W. Bush: “The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still today.”
We heard a lot this week about how we would see a new, sober Trump at the U.N., but instead we got the American version of Qaddafi. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. He referred to Kim Jong Un as “rocket man.” He said parts of the world were “going to hell.” He basically delivered Bush’s notorious Axis of Evil speech, except he excluded Iraq, added some choice bits from his American Carnage speech, and amped up the crazy. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be represented by a wild-eyed megalomaniac—minus the flowing robes and abundant military medals—take a look.