National Security & Defense

President Trump Displays Commanding Leadership at U.N.

President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 25, 2018. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
On the world stage, Trump is Muhammad Ali to Obama’s Mister Rogers.

Donald J. Trump’s week at the United Nations should squelch renewed chatter about his alleged mental instability and unfitness for office, and why the 25th Amendment should be used to slip him into a straitjacket and speed him to the nearest asylum.

From Sunday to Thursday, a commanding President Trump practiced high-level diplomacy in New York. He signed the U.S.–Korea Free Trade Agreement, hosted a reception for Security Council members, and conducted one-on-one talks with U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and the leaders of Colombia, Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

“The American–Israeli alliance has never been stronger,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Trump as they huddled. “It’s stronger than ever before under your leadership. I look forward to working with you and your team to advance our common interests — security, prosperity, and peace — with Israel’s neighbors and for the region.”

Wielding a gavel, President Trump chaired the 8,362nd meeting of the U.N. Security Council, specifically on limiting weapons of mass death. He also fielded wide-ranging questions at a one-hour, 22-minute news conference.

But President Trump’s main event was his 35-minute address to the General Assembly. Standing at the U.N.’s signature green-marble rostrum on Tuesday morning, Trump advocated “principled realism.” He reasserted Washington’s vision of individual, sovereign nations bilaterally collaborating with America. This deepens the president’s break with Obama’s policy, which was to surrender ever more American influence to the U.N., the Paris global-warming treaty, and other multilateral bodies and agreements.

“America is governed by Americans,” Trump said. “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.” He added: “That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.”

The president confirmed the effectiveness of his tough-but-fair engagement with North Korea. Kim Jong-un’s missiles have not soared over Japan and the Pacific since last November. His nuclear bombs have gone undetonated since last September.

“Our hostages have been released,” Trump said. “And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home to lay at rest in American soil.” He added, “The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs,” even as negotiations continue.

Where will this wind up? Washington’s discussions with Pyongyang could unleash peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights above the 38th parallel. Or the whole thing could fizzle. At a minimum, the Trump administration is trying to end this 65-year-long stalemate. And, for now, it’s all quiet on the northern front.

In the Middle East, Trump noted, “the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria.” Nearby, Saudi Arabia and “the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing,” Trump explained. “They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region.”

President Trump slammed “the corrupt dictatorship in Iran.” He said, “Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.”

“We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons,” Trump continued. “We cannot allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America,’ and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.”

By leading the Axis of Evil, Iran underscores daily the rank idiocy of Obama’s cash-fueled appeasement. The Iran nuclear deal was supposed to make Tehran kinder and gentler, after Obama plied it with $400 million in air-freighted, freshly laundered Swiss francs and another $115 billion in unfrozen financial assets.

Instead, Iran took the money and ran.

“In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget grew nearly 40 percent.” Trump observed. “The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.” The deal’s laughably weak inspection regime (e.g., international experts may not scrutinize military bases) makes it impossible to judge Iran’s compliance.

Compared with Obama’s Mister Rogers approach, Trump is Muhammad Ali. “Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that had been lifted under the Iran deal,” Trump stated. “Additional sanctions will resume November 5th, and more will follow.”

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu said, “The fact that you have brought American sanctions to bear has cut the cash machine of Iran and its campaign of carnage and conquest in the Middle East.”

This ever-mounting pressure is challenging the mullahs’ grip on power. May Iran’s youth pile upon Ayatollah Khamenei what their parents heaped on the shah.

Regarding the often-uncontrolled flow of human beings across borders, Trump argued: “Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.” 

Finally, unlike the increasingly socialist Democratic party, President Trump excoriated the poverty and pain that socialism generates wherever it slithers.

“Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay,” Trump said. “Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.”

Trump correctly cited once-prosperous Venezuela as a nation devastated by the “triumph” of socialism. “Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty,” Trump said. He properly has tightened sanctions on the incompetent and cruel socialists in Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship.

President Trump’s more unorthodox moments sometimes overshadow a fact he underscored at the U.N. this week: He is a serious player on the world stage who has steered American foreign policy away from its previous destination under Obama — over a cliff.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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