President Donald Trump will deliver his first address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday at 10 am. His remarks will be streamed on the UN's live feed, available below...
Since late yesterday, senior members of the Trump administration, a group that may include the president himself, have been furiously leaking details of the president's first address to the United Nations to various media outlets. The upshot, according to the WSJ, is that the president's speech - perhaps his most highly anticipated since his first address to a joint session of Congress back in February - will focus largely on railing against the US's many geopolitical enemies while attempting to reconcile Trump's "America First" populism with the US's role as a global leader. In particular, he's expected to try and rally international support for suppressing North Korea's nuclear program, while labeling both Iran and the isolated North as "global threats." Moving further down the list of US enemies, Trump is expected to castigate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for his anti-demoncratic crackdowns as his country continues to sink into economic chaos, driven by low oil prices and years of mismanagement.
According to WSJ, Trump will also touch on the need for reforming the UN, which he criticized in remarks made Monday during a working group for being too bloated and overly bureaucratic, while advocating a foreign policy that's "driven by outcomes."
"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 fine-tuning his speech with his advisers because he believes Tuesday’s address is “an incredible moment and an enormous opportunity to demonstrate US leadership and USvalues.” However, while Trump is expected to find broad support for some issues, like condemining North Korea and combating terrorism, he may face pushback on others, like his demand that the Paris Accord be renegotiated, as well as his opposition to Iran, which signed a deal two years ago with the five members of the UN Security Council plus the European Union.
On those issues, French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also slated to speak Tuesday, could serve as a foil to his US counterpart and newfound friend.
“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.
Trump is also expected to repeat his criticisms that the US is shouldering too much of the financial and military burden of protecting the international community - a theme that was the focus of remarks he made at a NATO meeting earlier this year that elicited horrified responses from some NATO leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel, who will not be in attendance at the UN because of the federal elections being held in Germany. Trump is expected to ask oher countries to join in the defining battles of the early 21st century, echoing themes of his campaign rallies and previous foreign-policy speeches.
Of course, as the Hill notes, world leaders will likely hang on every word of Trump's speech as they try to suss out which Trump they are dealing with: The conciliatory Trump epitomized by his address to Congress in February, or the fiery populist who speaks off the cuff and sometimes offers opinions or statements with little to no filter. Much of the political world, both right and left, "will be on tenterhooks" during his speech, the Hill reported. Trump started his week-long trip to the UN on a cautious note Monday, couching his desire for reform of the organization in diplomatic terms during a speech he gave to a forum of dignitaries that included the organization's new secretary-general, António Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal. Most observers expect Trump will continue in a similar vein — but they know that nothing is guaranteed.
Even some long-time Democratic strategists were saying the speech "could be a win" for Trump if he sticks to the teleprompter.
“I actually think if it is Teleprompter Trump, it could be good for him,” said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. “But going off-script is always the danger.”
Most observers expect Trump will continue in a cautious vein - but as Trump's adversaries have repeatedly learned, when dealing with Trump, nothing is guaranteed. To be sure, a more measured approach would help defeat Trump's reputation for "conducting foreign policy in inflammatory terms, generating tension with US allies," as the Hill describes it. During his one-on-one meetings Monday with Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump offered a more conventional approach - most of the time.
As the Hill recounts, Trump promised to give plans for peace between Israel and the Palestinians “an absolute go” during remarks with Netanyahu, while telling Macron that the unpopular French president pulled off “one of the great election victories of all time” and was doing “a terrific job.”
Yet Tuesday will bring a more difficult test, as Trump tries to rally an international community that is deeply skeptical of him to put greater pressure on North Korea. Notably, the leaders of Russia and China —both permanent members of the UN Security Council — are not attending the summit. Trump has had what could be described as a "love-hate" relationship with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping since taking office.
For his part, Trump admits that some of the topics he will cover may be "tricky," but that he is looking forward to the challenge.
Big day at the United Nations - many good things, and some tricky ones, happening. We have a great team. Big speech at 10:00 A.M.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017