• Politics

The U.N. Speech Showed President Trump’s Zero-Sum Views

5 minute read

President Trump has rarely been coy about his deeply transactional view of the world: Trade agreements have winners and losers; wars have profits to be taken; and most everything can be solved with a deal. That world view was on full display Tuesday as he made his debut at the United Nations, touting “sovereign states” as the building blocks of the global order and making common cause with global leaders as acting first in their own selfish national interests. “I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first,” Trump said. Declaring the U.S. doesn’t seek to impose its views on the world, Trump advocated a policy of “principled realism,” that is “guided by outcomes, not ideology.” It spotlighted a calculating turn for American foreign policy, as Trump celebrated the often-unsavory compromises made to ensure regional or geopolitical stability, rather than bemoaning their necessity.

The speech was unconventional and decidedly Trumpian, as he warned North Korea against further nuclear and ballistic provocations. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime,” the president declared, using his preferred moniker for the North Korean leader. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he added. As he called for North Korea to denuclearize, Trump also called into question the continuation of the Iran nuclear deal. As he criticized that regime’s sponsoring of terror and regional strife, Trump suggested once again he would revisit the accord that led to a pause in that country’s nuclear program. “That deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me,” he said. In notable fashion, Trump took thinly-veiled swipes at Russia and China for their territorial ambitions, declaring, “We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.”

Trump has long been a critic of the United Nations, and sought to use his speech both to announce his revised conception of the U.S.’s role in the world and its involvement in the multi-national organization. “We can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return,” he said, echoing the language of his campaign for the presidency. Trump raised concern about the large U.S. contribution to the organization, but also praised efforts at reforming it, celebrating during a luncheon toast the “potential” of the UN.

In Washington, Senate Republicans are moving forward with a last-ditch effort to pass legislation on healthcare before the Sept. 30 expiration of the fiscal year, which would eliminate their ability to use a parliamentary tool called reconciliation to pass a bill with juts a simple majority in the chamber. The Graham-Cassidy legislation, named for the two GOP Senators supporting it, is largely unstudied, with the Congressional Budget Office saying it will be unable to review the bill before next week’s deadline. Republicans can still only lose two votes in the Senate, and the same cast of characters are likely to be on the fence as when the body last considered healthcare legislation two months ago. Already Republican governors of states with key GOP votes have come out against the legislation—including Alaska, Louisiana, Ohio, Montana, and Nevada—but the White House now says it is “all-in” on their last, best hope at making good on their promise to voters in this Congress.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump aides is intensifying with some extreme tactics. The GOP’s tax reform plans are still in flux. And the hate-filled accounts retweeted by the president.

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Sound Off

“We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” — President Trump telling the United Nations General Assembly that the U.S. will act if it or its allies are threatened

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” — Trump at the United Nations

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Sean Spicer Says He Regrets Berating Reporters Over Inauguration Crowds [New York Times]

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President Trump Says He Wants a Parade to Show ‘Military Strength’ on July 4 [TIME]

Here Are All the Times Donald Trump Bashed the United Nations Before Speaking There [TIEM]

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Rex Tillerson Says U.S. Might Close Cuba Embassy After Mystery Attacks [Associated Press]

A Look Inside the Hate-Filled Twitter Accounts That President Trump Retweeted [TIME]

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