Friday, November 3, 2017 at 8:49 AM

‘Haley to UN General Assembly: US Does Not Fear Isolation’

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Ambassador Nikki Haley blasted the United Nations Wednesday in a defiant speech to the 193-member General Assembly before it adopted a resolution calling for an end to the US economic embargo on Cuba. …

‘This assembly does not have the power to end the US embargo. … To those who are confused as to where the United States stands, let me be clear: the American people have spoken … they have chosen a new president, and he has chosen a new ambassador to the United Nations.’

(Miami Herald, November 1, 2017)

The title to this commentary is from a McClatchy report on the Trump administration’s regressive relations with Cuba. But it speaks volumes about the delusional arrogance that guides Trump’s approach to most international matters.

For example, only the delusional arrogance inherent in claiming no fear of isolation explains his administration withdrawing the United States from the

  • Trans Pacific Partnership
  • Paris Climate Accord
  • Iran Nuclear Deal, and
  • UNESCO.

Frankly, this administration is taking foolish pride in not just isolating the United States, but relegating it to the kind of pariah status usually reserved for countries like North Korea.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Trump wants to see international goodwill relegated to the dustbin of history – along with concepts like diversity, immigration, and political correctness. I have remarked on many occasions that he seems to think that hurling insults and insisting on having his way is the best way to win friends and influence people.

For example, in “‘Leading from Behind’ – Trump Depending on China to Protect US from North Korea,” April 21, 2017, I ridiculed him for variously badgering and begging China to help with North Korea, and then tweeting temper tantrums over China’s refusal to do so.

Actually, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made little effort to disguise his contempt for Trump – who is

  • as susceptible to idle flattery as a fifteen-year-old girl
  • as inclined to juvenile taunts as a ten-year-old boy, and
  • as prone to temper tantrums as a five-year-old child.

Xi’s contempt was clear from their interaction when they met in Florida in April, and will probably be even more so when they meet in Beijing next week.

Truth be told, Trump’s lying, boasting, and general buffoonery have become so notorious, most world leaders now treat him more like an international mascot than the reputed leader of the free world. I was already remarking on the laughingstock he had become in “Russia, China, North Korea Making Trump Look Like a Chump,” March 7, 2017. So when you hear Donald Trump boasting about rallying his fellow world leaders to confront North Korea or Iran, beware that it has about as much resonance as Harvey Weinstein boasting about rallying his fellow Hollywood producers to combat sexual harassment.

(Have you noticed the defensive way Trump projects about others making the United States an international laughingstock? It would be laughable if it were not so serious.)

Now his administration is effectively declaring that the UN is only relevant when it resolves to do America’s bidding. No doubt other member states harbor similar delusions. But at least they have enough common sense to pay lip service to the UN – even as they willfully defy its resolutions.

More to the point, though, no nation has more vested interest in all nations respecting the authority and imprimatur of international organizations than the United States; not least because it is a founding member of practically all of them.

What’s more, no nation relies more on international cooperation to further its national interests. The “coalition of the willing” former President George W. Bush built for “America’s invasion” of Iraq stands as a glaring example. But such cooperation is indispensable on a range of other matters. The wonder is that Trump has yet to figure this out.

Indeed, it defies common sense for his administration be withdrawing, as delineated, when it needs international cooperation to

  • redress trade imbalances
  • combat ISIS
  • curb nuclear proliferation, and
  • Make America Great Again.

Mind you, Haley’s bluster about US isolation is probably no more reasoned than Trump’s bluster about, well, everything.

For example, on Tuesday, a terrorist mowed down eight people in New York City. On Wednesday, Trump blustered about shipping that terrorist to Guantánamo Bay (Gitmo). Yet on Thursday, he tweeted:

Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

It’s important to appreciate the backdrop. After all, with the notable exception of Israel, most countries called on the United States to close Gitmo over a decade ago.

Five independent United Nations human rights experts today called on the United States to immediately close the Guantánamo Bay detention centre following three suicides there, citing a report they issued three months ago alleging inhuman conditions amounting to torture and the ‘profound effect’ on detainees’ mental health.

(UN News Centre, June 14, 2006)

Of course, Trump would have you believe that he suddenly performed some statistical analysis, which showed that Gitmo serves as little more than a black eye on the face of the United States. Never mind that his predecessor, Barack Obama, spent the eight years of his presidency citing those very statistics, which he did to no avail in pleadings for the Republican-controlled Congress to close Gitmo.

Incidentally, those same human rights experts marked the 14th anniversary of Gitmo (on January 11, 2016) with an Open Letter to the United States. In it, they warned that

Impunity only generates more abuses.

I fear the Trump Administration’s declaration of isolation presumes this kind of impunity. And it will not only generate more abuses at Gitmo but transform the United States from a force for good to one for ill on the world stage.

Obama ended up using his executive authority to normalize relations, which included releasing many Gitmo prisoners and easing many restrictions on Americans traveling to and doing business in Cuba.

This brings me back to the embargo. It is noteworthy that Israel is the only country to vote with the United States in opposing this latest UN resolution. Because, ever since its founding, Israel has acted on the world stage as if it can do anything, as long as it has the backing of the United States. Now it appears the US is acting as if it can too, as long as it has the backing of Israel.

Meanwhile, both the United States and Israel seem oblivious that countries are queuing up to pay homage to China as the “indispensable nation” the United States used to be … until its stupid voters elected Trump as president. Never mind that jumping even from Trump’s America to Xi’s China is tantamount to the proverbial jumping from the frying pan into the fire, which I warned about in commentaries like “China Buying the Global Influence Russia and US Fighting For…,” October 19, 2016.

To be fair, though, one can hardly blame other world leaders, most of whom are finely lubricated weathervanes, from bowing towards Xi.

It’s bad enough that Trump forfeited his preeminent leadership by acting like a puppet on the string of Russia’s wannabe superpower(ful) Vladimir Putin. But Xi just emulated Putin by having the Communist Party Congress enshrine him as president for life.

Whereas, far from serving two beleaguered and politically emasculated terms, Trump will be lucky if the US Congress does not impeach him before the end of his first.

Related commentaries:
Iran nuclear deal
Leading from behind...
Trump like chump
Trump at UN
Trump in Saudi Arabia
Cuba
Gitmo
China buying influence

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