President Donald Trump did not try to make news with his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He reinforced points he’d made before, urging countries to take care of their own needs and valuing patriots over globalists.
Vox called it “sleepy.” Esquire called it “the rhetorical equivalent of a tranquilizer dart.”
But Slate expressed the views of the Trump-hating left most fully with “Trump Is No Longer Even Pretending to Care About The Ideals of the U.N.” by Fred Kaplan.
“President Donald Trump delivered an utterly spiritless speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, a speech aimed entirely at a domestic audience, touting nationalism and thick borders as the solutions to all problems, lacking even the pretense of fealty to the principles or worth of international organizations such as the one he was addressing,” Kaplan wrote in his lead.
Kaplan then strung together quotes from the speech. “The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots,” Trump had said. “Liberty is only preserved, sovereignty is only secured, democracy is only sustained, greatness is only realized by the devotion of patriots.”
At the end, “When our nations are greater, our futures will be brighter,” Trump said. The path to peace and freedom “begins at home.”
Trump got elected on an America First platform, but Kaplan appeared to think he should pay homage to the globalism and multilateralism Trump ran against.
“He said nothing about the role that alliances, coalitions or the United Nations itself might play in laying or protecting that path,” Kaplan wrote. “He mentioned America’s traditional allies only once, to complain – as he has on many occasions – that they aren’t paying ‘their fair share of the tremendous defense burden.’”
Last year, Trump emphasized many of the same themes, Kaplan wrote. “However, back then he took care to add, ‘We are grateful for all the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives,’ and he assured the assembly that the U.S. was ‘committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable.’ There were no such sentiments in this address – no mention of the United Nations at all.”
Instead, Trump seemed to seek out the anger machine, Kaplan said. “He boasted of America’s rising incomes and declining unemployment. He pledged ‘America will never be a socialist country.’ He derided defenders of migrants’ rights as ‘open-border activists who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of social justice’ for the sake of ‘cruel and evil’ policies. He made no distinction between illegal immigrants and refugees who are legally seeking to escape repression. He said nothing about climate change – remarkable for a session that is treating the issue as a major theme – or any other problems that seep across national borders.”
Kaplan does not say why Trump should get into the weeds of the difference between illegal immigrants and asylum seekers whose bids almost certainly will fail. He also does not say why Trump would bring up global warming when he has labeled it a “hoax,” removed most mentions of it from government websites and retooled the EPA to fight pollution – its original mission – rather than study global warming.
Kaplan said there was “irony and tragedy” in Trump’s refusal to cede sovereignty to an unelected international body in contravention of U.S. law because “some of his own concerns can be solved only through global action.” He mentioned Trump’s call for sanctions against Iran, saying, “Trump makes it harder for these leaders to join him on this campaign when he so cavalierly dismisses the idea of cooperation in general and when he encourages other nations to pursue their own cultures, traditions and interests as they see fit.”
There also is a “contradiction in this theme of ‘patriotism above globalism’ that Trump doesn’t seem to recognize,” Kaplan wrote. He pushed others to practice democracy, empower women and legalize homosexuality.
“But these freedoms,” Kaplan wrote, “are rooted in ideals – such as universal human rights, enshrined in international law – that Trump otherwise rejects as dangerous globalism.” There are no universal human rights guarantees for women, democracy or homosexuality.