Robert Kagan on Trump’s Press Conference at the U.N.

We get a reality check on President Trump’s jaw-dropping press conference at the U.N. from the conservative American historian and foreign policy expert Bob Kagan.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So about North Korea and to follow up on what you said. He said that I’ve made friends with Kim Jong Un, I like Kim Jong Un. He called him very very courageous but he also said something in the press conference which took a lot of people by surprise and I certainly never heard this before about President Obama and North Korea. Just take a listen.


TRUMP: If I wasn’t elected, you’d be in a war. And President Obama essentially said the same thing. He was ready to go to war. You would have had a war and you would have lost millions, not thousands. You would have lost millions of people, sold his thirty million people, forty miles and thirty miles from this very dangerous border. If I wasn’t elected, you would have had a war.


AMANPOUR: Had you heard that before that President Obama was so close allegedly to that?

ROBERT KAGAN, AMERICAN HISTORIAN: Not only have I not heard it, I’m fairly confident it’s not true. But it’s interesting that Donald Trump makes that point because, you know, he’s walking an interesting line when it comes to his base and the American people in general. On the one hand, he wants to look like a tough guy who can get the world to do what he wants. On the other hand, he wants to make it clear that he’s not going to use military force. And so he wants to use just economic tools and his own brilliance as a negotiator to get what America wants. And I think that other countries are going to figure that out, other countries that are probably adversaries to the United States and have military capability. And again, this is what’s sort of worrying about Trump is that he wants to push countries very hard but at the same time, he’s not prepared to deal with the possible consequences of that if it does lead to some kind of military confrontation.

AMANPOUR: And just again about the sovereignty issue, he said America will never surrender sovereignty to an unelected global bureaucracy and he seems to be conflating alliances in multilateralism with somehow being against the notion of sovereignty. I don’t know whether you think that as well that there’s some sort of exclusivity that he seems to be claiming there. So far as your book and what you’ve been talking about, you know, The Jungle Grows Back, America and Our Imperiled World. What do you mean by the jungle growing back?

KAGAN: Well, I don’t mean a threat to America’s sovereignty which is not something that I think we should be concerned about. And just on that point, I mean I don’t think we’ve heard an American president talk like this since the 1920s. And he’s playing to this sort of old American fear that somehow international organizations are going to take away American sovereignty which I think when you’re the strongest power in the world, it’s kind of a silly kind of a fear.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour interviews John Avlon, CNN Senior Political Analyst and former Chief Speechwriter for NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani & Patti Solis Doyle, former Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton; and Robert Kagan, author of “The Jungle Grows Back” and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State. Michel Martin interviews Sarah Smarsh, author of “Heartland.”