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U.S. president continues push of American isolationism and “exceptionalism” before the world

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Oct 3, 2018 - 10:17:46 PM

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President Donald Trump listens to a council member at a United Nations Security Council meeting during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 26. Right center is U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Photo: AP/Wide World Photos
There were mixed feelings and controversy among world leaders, diplomats and delegations aimed at United States President Donald Trump at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York. 

The theme for the 73rd session was “Making the United Nations Relevant to  All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”

For the U.S., the annual summit ended where it began, with Mr. Trump touting his “America first” message which analysts told The Final Call was actually an “America only” position.

Some geopolitical watchers say there is an American shift toward nationalism. Others say Mr. Trump is only giving expression to an ideology that’s been in the country all along. 

“I don’t see it as a shift; It’s not a shift in policy, it’s a shift in presentation,” said Dr. Wilmer Leon, a political scientist and host of Inside the Issues on Sirius XM.  

“The policy has always been American exceptionalism … manifest destiny; that America has been anointed by God to impose its will upon those who will not go along,” said Dr. Leon in a telephone interview.

Mr. Trump only came out with the unvarnished truth, “it’s our way or the highway,” he added. This is the root of the Trump administration arrogant global posture toward other nations.  A common theme among many heads of state during the general debate opposed “isolationism” and “unilateralism,” and expressed support for global pacts to address nuclear weapons proliferation, climate change and solving many of the world’s pressing issues. However, these positions contrasted Mr. Trump’s pronouncements to the world body. 

“Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered,” President Trump said in a near 40-minute speech. The UN session was held September 24-27. “So, we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all,” Mr. Trump added.

But, with the U.S. track record as an international snooper and meddler in the affairs of other nations, observers and some world leaders saw President Trump’s words as hypocritical.

The strongest condemnation of U.S. hypocrisy was given by Bolivia President Evo Morales during the UN Security Council meeting on nuclear proliferation chaired by President Trump.

After he categorically condemned U.S. unilateral actions against Iran, President Morales listed a history of U.S. intervention starting with the 1953 CIA orchestrated coup d’état against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddeq in Iran. Then the “illegal invasion” of Iraq, Libya, and now Syria, he argued. 

 “The United States has once again demonstrated its contempt for international law (and) for multilateralism,” President Morales said. “Each time the United States invades nations, launches missiles or finances regime change, it does so behind a propaganda campaign … it is acting in the cause of justice, freedom, democracy, human rights, or humanitarian reasons,” he said. 

The U.S. is not interested in upholding democracy, Mr. Morales argued.

President Trump’s speech was his second before the 193-nation group and took place at a time of change and shifting relationships between the U.S and both its friendly allies and staunchest foes.

The business mogul turned head of state has gained a reputation of snubbing some longtime friends like neighboring Canada. He openly repulsed Canada as a country that has unfairly charged the U.S. a 300 percent tariff on American dairy products. Mr. Trump confirmed to reporters that he refused a one-on-one meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau over trade disagreements. 

“We are standing up for America and for the American people,” Mr. Trump told the world leaders at the General Assembly.  President Trump gave scathing criticism on why the U.S. cannot work within established global institutions like the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court.

America quit the Human Rights Council in June for what rights activists at the time told The Final Call was “Washington’s own hypocrisy” and push to be “free of all external constraints on its behavior.”

Mr. Trump dismissed the International Criminal Court as having, “no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority,” and continued his call for UN reform.   “We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans.  We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” he declared.

But the problem is Trump’s anti-globalism is out of step with the time, said Dr. Leon. He added, Donald Trump is trying to impose the “Monroe doctrine” or American isolationism on to a globalized world. “History has passed him by. You cannot become a nationalist—which is what he claims to be—in a globalized economy,” he reasoned.  

Building the case for nationalism and “America first,” Mr. Trump said “each of us” is the “emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values” that make “our homelands like nowhere else” on earth.

“What he was really saying (is) that the whole point of the United Nations should be nations whose concern is only about themselves, should come together, and then somehow, they will be able to deal with everything because their concern is only about their own people,” explained Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

It’s the kind of convoluted logic that world leaders learned to expect from Pres. Trump. Ms. Bennis in an interview with the Real News Network said the UN visit displayed Mr. Trump’s “disassociation from reality.”  She was referring to a moment at the beginning of Mr. Trumps address when the leaders burst out in laughter at his assertion that: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” 

Both Mr. Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley maintained to media outlets, the leaders were “laughing with him” and not at him. This year’s General Assembly speech contrasted last year when Mr. Trump lambasted North Korean leader Kim Jung Un as “little rocket man” and threatened to “destroy” his country. He complimented and thanked the U.S. foe for “his courage,” and summit in Singapore earlier this year. He announced in a September 27 press conference a second summit with Chairman Kim is being arranged.

President Trump sat as president of the UN Security Council—a monthly rotating chair. During his remarks to the council, Mr. Trump accused China of meddling in U.S. midterm elections coming early November as a retaliatory move against himself over the ongoing trade war between the two countries.

The day before on Sept. 26, Mr. Trump accused China of unfair trade practices that cost the U.S. millions of manufacturing jobs and thousands of factories after China joined the World Trade Organization. He said it resulted in $13 trillion in trade deficits over 20 years.

“But those days are over,” Mr. Trump said. “We will no longer tolerate such abuse,” he added before announcing tariffs on another $200 billion on Chinese-made goods. 

Mr. Trump also placed special emphasis on Venezuela. The U.S. imposed sanctions on four current and former government officials including first lady and former Attorney General Cilia Adela Flores de Maduro. Caracas has accused the U.S. of plotting and meddling internally, aiming to topple its socialist government.

In an overt move Ambassador Haley called for the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro on September 27, a day after Mr. Trump threatened strong action against Venezuela. PressTV reported Amb. Haley took up a megaphone and addressed anti-Maduro protesters on the sidewalk outside UN headquarters.

“We are going to fight for Venezuela and we are going to continue doing it until Maduro is gone!” she shouted from the megaphone. “We need your voices to be loud, and I will tell you, the U.S. voice is going to be loud.”

President Trump also called on world leaders to re-isolate and sanction the Islamic Republic of Iran, which most nations have rejected except a few tied to an anti-Iran agenda.

The Trump administration backed out of a nuclear deal and pact between Iran and the five Security Council members plus Germany signed during the Barack Obama administration.

Ms. Bennis said Mr. Trump was being less than truthful on the question of Iran. He implied many countries supported his decision to pull out of the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions.

“The only countries that supported that are the key countries that are leading the anti-Iran/U.S.-backed coalition in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE,” she said.

The U.S. reinstituted sanctions on Iran and has given other nations and foreign businesses until Nov. 4 to stop doing business with Iran or lose trade with America. Washington is pushing allies to cut Iranian oil imports to zero.

But, it’s questionable if the deadline will have a serious effect after the European Union foreign policy head, Federica Mogherini along with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, announced a new deal that will allow the other Security Council members to continue business with Iran after the U.S. deadline with more countries like Turkey and India pledging to also sign on.    

Foreign ministers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran met in a closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the General Session. Mr. Zarif stood with Ms. Mogherini as she read the statement to the press on September 24.

U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton spoke hawkish words concerning Iran and threatened, “if you cross us, our allies or our partners … yes there indeed will be hell to pay.”

At the end of the day with all of the U.S. bombastic rhetoric and push for nationalism, America has little sway over other powers. For them, the U.S. has to go it alone.

“The administration’s performance at the United Nations reaffirmed the fundamental fact that the people of the United States, and poor and working people around the world have a common enemy in the U.S. government,” said Act Now to Stop War and End Racism—A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in an analysis paper.