Diplomacy for what? 45’s international isolationism at the United Nations
Strong leaders know when to use soft skills. They know when to employ different dispute resolution strategies. And history looks favorably upon diplomatic leaders who make necessary concessions and reasonable demands. However, what Americans have at this moment in time looks quite different.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He brought the rugged individualist American stereotype to an international stage through isolationism and self-congratulations. He threatened North Korea. He criticized the Iran Deal. And he doubled-down on the kinds of rhetoric so-called developed nations use to keep vulnerable people beyond their borders.
The international community, much like millions of Americans, expressed displeasure with President Trump’s tactics. In an editorial published the same day 45 addressed the United Nations, The Guardian lit him up for presenting an established, collaborative community of nation states with haste, selfishness and “ominous language.” The British newspaper said Trump “has not displayed the slightest interest in fundamental democratic values.” While President Barack Obama was Trump’s “eloquent predecessor,” the publication called President Trump a trader in “crass belligerence.”
President Trump began his speech with an obligatory reference to how intensified hurricanes wreaked havoc on Americans. He thanked the countries that made themselves available to help. Then, he transitioned from this climate change connected reality into employment rates, military spending and threats. When Trump said, “Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been,” to a gathering of nations it felt eerily reminiscent of St. Louis police telling protestors “Whose streets? Our streets.” The remark should raise questions of which country or countries will be targeted for armed conflict.
President Trump glossed over hurricane devastation one day before Hurricane Maria inflicted widespread devastation and wiped out 100% of power in Puerto Rico – an American territory.
Why focus on climate change or collaboration, when he could decry “rogue regimes” (like we really want to see if North Korea is about that action) and emphasize “outcomes, not ideology?” What about how other nations do not settle for lower general rates of an issue, like unemployment, when specific populations consistently struggle to make a living?
Why emphasize foreign nationals staying primarily in their countries, when natural disasters continuously create climate refugees? Why say different countries have it in their power to “ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred and fear” when he likens counter-protestors to white supremacists and Neo-Nazis?
Ultimately, the people most likely asking these questions did not politically select the man whose approach warrants them. But, we live with the effects — including global shade and shame — nonetheless.