Trump to Push Nationalist Policy at U.N.
In his first speech at a U.N. General Assembly, president will appeal to others’ self-interest on North Korea, Iran and terror
President Donald Trump’s first address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday will lay out a foreign policy rooted in his view of nationalism and sovereignty and anchored by “America First” principles, according to a senior White House official.
Mr. Trump will call for more burden sharing and cooperation among countries on issues including the fight on terrorism, North Korea’s nuclear and military threat, and Iran’s adherence to a multinational nuclear deal.
He will also mention reforms at the U.N. and the role countries play in enabling North Korea’s regime, though it wasn’t clear whether Mr. Trump will blame specific nations for keeping Pyongyang’s economy afloat despite global sanctions. He is expected also to address the crisis in Venezuela.
The address will combine the nationalistic theme of his campaign with an appeal to the nationalism of other countries as a new basis for international cooperation, the senior official said.
“It will be a foreign policy that is driven by outcomes, not by ideologies,” the official said. “What the president is doing is explaining how the principle of America First is not only consistent with the goal of international cooperation, but a rational basis for every country to engage in cooperation.”
The official said Mr. Trump dedicated considerable time to drafting, developing and fine-tuning his speech with his advisers because he viewed Tuesday’s address as “an incredible moment and an enormous opportunity to demonstrate U.S. leadership and U.S. values.”
Mr. Trump’s speech will be delivered with the use of a Teleprompter—although he is best known for speaking informally and off the cuff—in an effort to convincingly present a foreign-policy doctrine.
Mr. Trump also will air a frequent grievance of his that the U.S. is shouldering too much of the financial and military burden as a global leader. He will call on Tuesday for more participation from other countries in the defining battles of the early 21st century, echoing themes of his campaign rallies and previous foreign-policy speeches.
In his first international address as president, in June in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump called on the Muslim world to join the U.S. and other countries in the fight against terrorism, echoing a theme voiced by his predecessors. A month later, in Warsaw, the president attempted to rally Europe to defend “the West” and its civilization, asking pointedly: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?”
Mr. Trump’s speech will be closely watched by world leaders as well as diplomats and U.N. officials looking to gauge Washington’s policies under an administration that has kept countries guessing on whether the U.S. will honor or abandon the Iran deal, or pursue diplomatic or military options on North Korea.
On some issues, such as pressuring North Korea and combating terrorism, Mr. Trump has the support and sympathy of the international community, and thus more leeway to push for the U.S. agenda. On other issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal and climate change, he faces stern opposition and pushback for demanding changes to previous agreements.
“The [Iran nuclear] agreement is solid and we will make sure the agreement is strictly implemented,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters Monday morning in New York, adding that so far there had been no indications of a breach by Iran.
Mr. Trump will share the world stage on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to praise the Iran deal and the Paris Climate Agreement as successes of international diplomacy.
Mr. Macron may end up being seen as the anti-isolationist and anti-nationalist leader of the West during the General Assembly this week, with Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel absent this year because of elections at home.
Also absent this year are other prominent leaders who typically would speak on the General Assembly’s first day, such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping.
Despite possible differences in views among leaders, analysts said what Mr. Trump says matters simply because he is the U.S. president.
“They [world leaders] will look for Trump to balance the rhetoric with some statements making a case for international cooperation,” said Richard Gowan, an expert on the U.N. at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “What Trump can do is say, ‘You help me with North Korea and U.N. costs and I will stick with this organization.’ As long as he gives that pitch, a large number of diplomats and politicians will be relatively happy.”
Mr. Trump pressed his case on the cost of U.S. support for the international organization on Monday while chairing a meeting of more than 100 international leaders. He called on the U.N. to “focus more on people and less on bureaucracy,” in comments during the meeting of international officials as the annual General Assembly gathering got under way.
The “ways of the past,” he said, are “not working.”
“We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, and that’s militarily and financially,” Mr. Trump said. His remarks were similar to those made by previous U.S. leaders.
Mr. Trump was accompanied at the event by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who also stands to come under the spotlight this week at her first General Assembly as the U.S. envoy to the U.N. She has emerged as an important foreign-policy figure in the Trump administration and often has been the first to voice Washington’s policies on global issues including Syria’s war, North Korea and Iran, frequently overshadowing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“She is a very influential voice in the administration,” a Security Council diplomat said, adding that during negotiations over tougher sanctions on North Korea, Ms. Haley projected the impression that she was driving North Korea policy.
Mr. Trump on Monday also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying the two continue pressing for Middle East peace.
“I think there’s a good chance that it could happen,” Mr. Trump said. “Historically, people say it can’t happen. I say it can happen.”
The U.S. and Israeli leaders both have criticized the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, though Mr. Trump wouldn’t say in response to a question whether he intends to withdraw from the agreement.
“You’ll see very soon,” Mr. Trump said.