Trump, the ‘America First’ president, goes to the UN – Washington Post
This dichotomy of a U.S. leader pledging to shape global conditions to ensure America’s prosperity and security without explicitly promoting its way of life is expected to distinguish Trump’s speech from those of his White House forebears.
The president’s nationalist agenda has led to widespread anxiety among the U.S. allies and partners who have gathered here this week among the more than 150 foreign delegations at the 72nd U.N. General Assembly. Amid mounting global challenges, foreign leaders are carefully watching Trump’s moment on the world stage for signals about his willingness to maintain the United States’ traditional leadership role.
Although Trump campaigned on a policy of putting “America first” and spoke dismissively of international bodies such as the United Nations and NATO, he has offered a tentative embrace of them as he seeks to rally international support to confront destabilizing threats from North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State.
Trump began several days of diplomacy at the United Nations with a session Monday devoted to reforming the institution — a theme during his outsider presidential campaign and a key demand of some of his conservative supporters. The focus on reducing bureaucracy lent a critical tone to Trump’s debut.
In brief opening remarks, he said the United Nations had not lived up to its billing upon its creation in 1945, asserting that it suffered from a bloated bureaucracy and “mismanagement.” Trump urged his fellow leaders to make reforms aimed at “changing business as usual,” but pledged that his administration would be “partners in your work.”
“Make the United Nations great,” the president told reporters when asked about his message this week, riffing off his campaign slogan. “Not again. Make the United Nations great. Such tremendous potential, and I think we’ll be able to do this.”
White House aides said the address would be consistent with Trump’s foreign policy speeches this year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he challenged other nations to do more in the global fight against terrorism, and in Warsaw, where he warned that Western civilization was under attack.
President Barack Obama used his final U.N. address last year to urge his peers to continue to embrace the multilateral cooperation that had marked the post-World War II era, and to warn of a global retreat into “tribalism” and “building walls” — an implicit reference to Trump just weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Trump campaigned on a pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and to curtail immigration.
In the vast U.N. chambers, Trump will give a “clear-eyed” view of the challenges facing the international community and offer a path that is based on “outcomes, not ideology,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the president’s speech.
Trump, as he has before, intends to emphasize the need for other nations to take up more of the burden of providing for their own prosperity and security, rather than relying on the United States.
“It’s a shared risk,” the administration official said. “Nations cannot be bystanders to history.” The aide added that Trump “will talk about the need to work toward common goals. But he will not tell them how to live. He will not tell them what system of government to have. He will ask countries to respect the sovereignty of other nations. That’s the rationale for the basis of cooperation.”
Foreign leaders have sought to influence Trump this week on a range of issues.
Trump’s first meeting with a world leader here was with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a choice meant to underscore the U.S. commitment to Israel and displeasure at what U.S. officials see as systemic anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.