ICYMI President Trump made his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly this week, aka UNGA aka the annual world leader speech-a-thon in New York. According to the White House, it was a yuuuge success. According to everyone else, it left a lot to be desired. So who was there? Allies like France’s Macron and Israel’s Netanyahu, and frenemies like Iran’s Rouhani. Who didn’t turn up? BFF Putin, Euroqueen Merkel and China’s Xi. So how big a deal is this? Well, these types of gatherings help shape governments’ relationships and global foreign policy, so... pretty big. Basically everyone was interested in whether and how much of Trump’s “America First” campaign rhetoric would be in his speech. The answer? A lot.
So what did he talk about? Sovereignty. And how countries should be allowed to do their own thing. Unless of course that thing either threatens America or annoys Trump, in which case, you’ll be invaded. Because ‘Murica. Then President Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if necessary because “Rocket Man” Kim is on a suicide mission. Gasp you should. Most people in the room did upon hearing that little upgrade from Trump’s previous fire and fury rant. Who else was on Trump’s hit list? Iran, Cuba and Venezuela. And while his speech was clearly aimed at his base (read: distracting from recent unpopular Democratic deals) and seemed to consist of more style than substance, it was still enough to make the other world leaders, the media, and the poor UN interpreters supremely uncomfortable. So what will happen now, you ask? Well it’s unclear whether and how Trump’s words will become policy, but that doesn’t make the situation any less terrifying.
So the President of the United States basically told the world that he is unconcerned with the UN’s mandate of global cooperation, unless it directly relates to the US’s narrow security interests. Instead, Trump kept repeating his mantra of America First (i.e. Trump First) and everyone else second. So what’s the problem here? Well the President either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that speeches like this have real impact and that other countries will set their own policies accordingly. For example, if Trump wishes America to take a step back from leading the world in order to consolidate its power, this could backfire by creating a leadership vacuum that other ambitious countries (*cough China cough*) would rush to fill. In the end Candidate Trump might get away with throwing verbal grenades and not worrying about the consequences. President Trump doesn’t have that luxury.
Feel like you know how to stir the minds and hearts of the masses with your epic speechmaking? Movie for your mood: Braveheart