Donald Trump was up before dawn this morning crowing like a demented rooster, hysterically announcing his greatness to the sun.
While most of his audience still slept, he was busy re-tweeting an employee’s praise of his performance at the United Nations and the fawning replies that that praise received:
“President Trump is reminiscent of the Founding Fathers, the type of statesmen who surmounts incredible odds to build the greatest country in the world.”
Hardly statesmanlike. For yesterday the president of the United States stood before the international body devoted to peaceful resolution of disputes and offered his middle finger.
Instead of supporting the U.N.’s peaceful principles he vowed to “totally destroy” one of its members, North Korea, and to tear up the recently achieved nuclear-control agreement with Iran. Instead of international cooperation he preached pursuit of aggressive self-interest by all member states starting with his own.
While the members sat in apparently stunned silence he demonstrated beyond doubt that any agreement with United States is worthless in the time of Trump. The hard-won respect for this country, carefully constructed over the hundred years since World War I, was trashed in an instant by his promise to reject as meaningless any commitment he dislikes and made by his predecessors. What the world can expect from the United States in the time of Trump is whatever Trump wants at any given moment.
That is not international cooperation. It is not stability. It is chaos.
He spoke like the swaggering Queens street fighter that he is, hurling school-yard insults at North Korea’s leader, bragging about himself, telling the assembled diplomats that their world is “going to hell,” criticizing “rogue nations” but avoiding mention of Russia or its human rights abuses.
It was a speech full of contradictions, praising international cooperation while calling on each member nation to put its own interests above all else as he would do for the United States.
Conservatives praised the speech, even CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, David Chalian, and Gloria Borger spoke admiringly of it as a strong statement of Trump’s principles.
But it’s hard to know what Trump’s principles are when he reverses himself almost daily and with ease, allies himself on the basis of personal interests and attachments rather than national interests, and refuses to recognize or react to such basic American interests as the Russian interference in our presidential election.
If our allies—France, Germany, Great Britain and others—have been confused by American foreign policy since the election, this speech will not help them.