United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ speech to the 74th annual High-Level General Assembly meeting on September 24th was full of generalities about world problems the UN is purporting to deal with, in contrast to President Trump’s honest discussion of hard truths.
“We are here to advance the common good while upholding our shared humanity and values,” the secretary general said. “That vision united the founders of our Organization.” However, Secretary General Guterres’ concept of the UN “vision” today is of a globalist institution, which was not the founders’ original vision at all. The founders’ vision for a new United Nations was much closer to the one that President Trump has articulated. The United Nations was founded to bring sovereign nations together for the purpose of cooperating in the solution of common problems and taking collective action where warranted against aggressors’ threats to international peace and security. The United Nations Charter specifically recognizes the sovereign status of the member states. It stipulates that the United Nations does not have the authority “to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.”
President Trump sought to remind the world leaders he addressed in his own General Assembly speech of the UN founders’ original understanding of the relationship between the world organization and its sovereign member states.
“The future does not belong to globalists,” the president said. “The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations, who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.”
The president spoke in measured but resolute terms. He issued no military threats. Indeed, he declared that “America’s goal is not to go with these endless wars, wars that never end.” However, the president expressed his first allegiance to America and its citizens. “The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation. We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all. But I will never fail to defend America’s interests,” he said.
President Trump pointed to international trade under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as an example of a global initiative that has taken the wrong turn, particularly as relates to China. He criticized world leaders for looking the other way too long as China broke its promises to reform its trade policies. “Not only has China declined to adopt promised reforms,” President Trump said, “it has embraced an economic model, dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property and also trade secrets on a grand scale.” The U.S. has led the way in trying to uphold the rule of law in multilateral trade, but President Trump made it clear that the United States would no longer be suckered by China’s disregard for the rule of law. President Trump also brought up Hong Kong, declaring that the U.S. would be “carefully monitoring the situation.” He added, “The world fully expects that the Chinese government will honor its binding treaty made with the British and registered with the United Nations in which China commits to protect Hong Kong’s freedom, legal system and democratic ways of life.” These are the kinds of hard truths that the world leaders who assembled at the UN’s annual talk fest needed to hear, especially China. President Trump delivered them. Secretary General Guterres did not.
Iran provided another opportunity for President Trump to lay down some hard truths. He called the Iranian regime one of the “greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations,” whose “bloodlust” should not be subsidized by other nations. “The regime is squandering the nation’s wealth and future in a fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them,” President Trump said. He defended his decision to withdraw the United States from the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), because of such fundamental flaws as failing to deal with Iran’s ballistic missile program and not allowing unfettered international inspections at significant sites. “As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tightened,” President Trump said, referring by way of example to the recent attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities for which credible evidence points to the Iranian regime’s complicity.
Secretary General Guterres, by contrast, praised the JCPOA and hoped it would remain in effect, even without any improvements. He raised an alarm about growing tensions in the Middle East Gulf region, including the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, without once noting Iran’s and its terrorist proxies’ pattern of aggressive activities and credible evidence that Iran was involved in the Saudi Arabia attack.
President Trump had little to say about North Korea, except to express a hope for a diplomatic path towards North Korea’s denuclearization. “I’ve told Kim Jong-un, what I truly believe, that like Iran, his country is full of untapped potential,” President Trump said. “To realize that promise, North Korea must denuclearize.”
President Trump made no mention of climate change in his speech, which was the theme of the UN Climate Action Summit held with much ballyhoo on September 23rd. However, the president did have much to say about illegal immigration and the need for sovereign nations to be able to protect their own borders. He derided the open border activists “who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of social justice.” He warned of the dangers of human trafficking that open border policies encourage. He framed effective border security as a human rights issue in that it discourages people from taking a long, often futile journey that puts their lives and the lives of their children in danger. “To anyone conducting crossings of our border illegally,” the president said, “please hear these words: Do not pay the smugglers. Do not pay the coyotes. Do not put yourself in danger. Do not put your children in danger. Because if you make it here, you will not be allowed in. You will be promptly returned home.”
President Trump provided examples of his administration’s initiatives that are harmonious with policies pursued by the UN system. To the naysayers who regularly accuse President Trump of bigotry and disregard of human rights, for example, the president pointed to his administration’s accomplishments in “working with other nations to stop criminalizing homosexuality” and standing “in solidarity with LGBTQ people who live in countries that punish, jail or execute individuals based upon sexual orientation.” President Trump noted that his administration launched “the first ever government-wide approach to women’s economic empowerment working to ensure that women, all over the planet, have the legal right to own and inherit property, work in the same industries as men, travel freely and access credit and institutions.” He also spoke of his administration’s leadership in championing religious freedom around the world, which is consistent with the UN’s professed values of religious tolerance. However, President Trump declared that his administration’s commitment to protecting Americans’ constitutional right to bear and keep arms in self-defense and to protecting the lives of the unborn would not waver in the face of UN initiatives to the contrary. “Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life,” he said. “There is no circumstance under which the United States will allow international interests to trample on the rights of our citizens, including the right to self-defense.”
President Trump concluded his remarks by pointing to America’s founding documents as the source of the “core rights and values America defends today.” He said that America’s “founders understood that there will always be those who believe they are entitled to wield power and control over others. Our founders gave us a system designed to restrain this dangerous impulse.”
President Trump did not throw the United Nations under the bus in his speech as some have charged. But he did raise a red flag. Americans are a “proud and fiercely independent people,” he said, who will not take directions from an unaccountable globalist bureaucracy. While the United Nations Charter and the United States Constitution can operate compatibly with each other if the UN Charter is interpreted and implemented according to its founding principles and UN bureaucrats stay in their proper lanes, globalist impulses are leading the UN astray. Despite its origins as an organization of sovereign member states brought together to cooperate on solving common problems when they can, the United Nations is approaching its 75th anniversary next year on a path that potentially puts the United Nations on an unacceptable collision course with the self-government of the American people. This may be the hardest truth of all that President Trump delivered to his largely unreceptive audience at the General Assembly.