The first State of the Union address U.S. President Donald Trump delivered in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 30 was characterized by self-praise and exaggerations.
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While taking pride in the brisk U.S. economy, Trump said his government will further beef up the country's military capability. Serious questions remain as to how his administration's policy, which reminds people in Japan of its past policy of increasing wealth and military power following the Meiji Restoration, will lead to what he called "a proud America" and "a new American moment."
The theme of his address was "building a safe, strong, and proud America." The president underscored the significance of tax cuts and the tax system reform his government has carried out and emphasized that the economic policy has succeeded, citing low unemployment and high share prices.
However, there are observations that the brisk economy is the legacy of the previous administration led by Barack Obama and not necessarily an achievement made by Trump alone.
President Trump also stressed that the United States has been successful in expelling the Islamic State (IS) militant group from Iraq and Syria, but the role that U.S. forces played in driving out the IS is less visible.
U.S. forces have not necessarily made achievements in the Muslim world as is shown by the worsening security situation in Afghanistan. Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel has further reduced the Muslim world's confidence in the United States.
Force alone cannot bring about peace. This is the lesson that the United States has learned from the Iraq war. Nevertheless, Trump has declared that the U.S. will boost its military capability including nuclear force, and expressed his view that demonstrating U.S. military might is the best defense of the country. It is a dangerous idea that could spark an arms race.
With regard to the Obama government's pursuit of a "world without nuclear weapons," Trump said, "Perhaps someday in the future, there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, sadly," as if to ridicule his predecessor's policy. The president's remark suggesting he regards nuclear abolition as "out of the question" is regrettable.
Trump invited the parents of an American university student, who was detained in North Korea and died shortly after coming back to his home country, to the speech venue in an apparent bid to demonstrate his firm determination to eradicate the threat posed by Pyongyang. It is understandable that Trump believes any easy compromise would only trigger further provocations and aggression by the North.
However, concerns remain as to whether the Trump administration can respond to the North Korean issue in an appropriate manner, considering the conflict between the ruling and opposition parties in the U.S. Congress and an ongoing investigation into the "Russia-gate" scandal.
Some legislators with the opposition Democratic Party boycotted the session where Trump delivered the speech, while some female lawmakers were dressed in black as though in mourning during the session in protest against rampant sexual harassment. The scene reminded the public that there is a long way before the U.S. can achieve reconciliation in society and bring about "a new American moment."