Guy W. Farmer: This was President Trump’s finest hour
September 23, 2017
Warning: Don't read this column if you suffer from TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) because I'm going to write some nice things, for a change, about President Donald J. Trump, who delivered a remarkable speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. His speech was remarkable because he explained his "America First" foreign policy in clear, expository language as opposed to the soothing "diplo-speak" usually heard at the U.N.
Unlike former American presidents (no names, please), Trump praised our friends and allies, and lambasted our real and potential enemies in language everyone could understand. Of course U.N. bureaucrats and diplomats, and the American Left, purported to be "shocked" and "stunned" because they had never heard such undiplomatic language on the world stage. Too bad about that because Trump specializes in breaking the rules and offending those who deserve to be offended.
"As president of the United States I will always put America first, just like you … will always put your countries first," Trump told delegates to the U.N. General Assembly as he called for "a great reawakening of nations" to address the world's problems because "if the righteous many don't confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph." Are you shocked? Me neither.
And who are the "wicked few?" Trump specifically singled out North Korea, "a murderous and menacing regime;" Iran, "a rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos," and Venezuela, where Trump accused Socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro of plunging a once oil-rich nation into poverty and misery. The president cited Venezuela as an example of the failed socialism that some left-wing American politicians are preaching.
President Trump's army of critics in Washington and the mainstream media thought his speech was too aggressive and belligerent for the delicate ears of international bureaucrats and diplomats; however, I believe what he said was exactly what they needed to hear. For example, diplomacy, which I practiced for nearly 30 years, isn't working with North Korea so Trump warned chubby young dictator Kim Jong Un, aka "Rocket Man," the U.S. has more than enough military power to "totally destroy" North Korea. "Rocket Man is on a suicide mission," the president added.
Pampered U.N. bureaucrats and diplomats hadn't heard such direct language since the days of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jeane Kirkpatrick and John Bolton. Trump's U.N. Ambassador, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, seems to be a worthy successor to those fearless, outspoken American representatives. The idea is to put America first and act in our own self-interest, cooperating where we can to resolve world problems but never ceding our sovereignty to a deeply flawed international organization.
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United Nations Reform
Trump also urged the U.N. to reform itself and put its own house in order, noting the U.S. pays 22 percent of the overall U.N. budget — more than $10 billion — and 27 percent of peacekeeping expenses around the world, a patently unfair funding system. By contrast, China, with a booming economy, pays a whopping 2 percent of the U.N. budget.
"The unaccountable and underperforming United Nations needs serious reform," wrote former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Francis Rooney in the Washington Examiner last week. "The U.N. is failing to make the world a better and safer place, and it continues to lose credibility" by appointing repressive, authoritarian regimes like China, Cuba and Venezuela to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Clearly, the U.S. should refuse to fund the UNHRC and other agencies that fail to defend human rights and the Rule of Law.
President Trump on Tuesday delivered a much-needed wake-up call to the United Nations. Good for him!
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, is the Appeal's senior political columnist.