This week will be a busy one for President Donald Trump. He is in New York City meeting with foreign leaders at his first United Nations General Assembly.
His message was simple, let's put people over process, let's make the U.N. effective in dealing with the world's problems.
“He will urge all states to come together to address grave dangers that threaten us all. If nations meet these challenges, immense opportunity lies before us,” said H.R. McMaster, White House National Security Adviser last week.
“The president's schedule also includes meeting with representatives from more than 120 nations, as well as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, to discuss reforming the international organization. Trump has been highly critical of the U.N., and the U.S. is backing changes it hopes will make the organization more efficient and effective,” writes The Hill.
“The president will then meet with leaders from France and Israel with an expected focus on the Middle East — and Iran in particular — for what national security adviser H.R. McMaster has called that country’s “destabilizing behavior” in the region.”
“While their conversations will be wide-ranging, we expect that Iran's destabilizing behavior, including its violation of the sovereignty of nations across the Middle East, to be a major focus,” said McMaster.
Trump has repeatedly expressed discontent with the U.N. and had tweeted in the past that the U.N. had become “a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”
Evidently, he will be actively pushing reforms this week.
“We can all say it is a new day at the U.N.,” said Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “It’s not just about talking. It’s about action.”
“We basically have the president headlining a U.N. reform effort, which would really support the secretary-general,” said Haley. “But the impressive part is we asked other countries to sign on to their support of reform, and 120 countries have signed on and will be in attendance. That’s a miraculous number.”
With missile strikes on Syria, tougher trade sanctions on China, and aggressive defensive and offensive military preparations against North Korea –Trump has proven he is a man of action in his short 8-months as president.
"This will be a great week, we look forward to it, as far as North Korea is concerned, I think that most of you know how I feel," said Trump on Monday morning.
“The president will be very clear that putting extreme pressure on North Korea is very important,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary. And he was (we wrote this up separately).
“The world is still trying to take the measure of this president. World leaders still wake up in the morning if they happen to be a friend of the president of the United States, [and] they also wonder what does it mean to be a friend of the president,” said Jon Alterman, senior vice president of the think tank known as the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “For a number of leaders, this is going to be their first chance to see him, to judge him, to try to get on his good side.”
As usual, Trump’s actions are bound to receive criticism.
“The president will do some surprising things at the General Assembly, some of which people will think are amazingly positive and some which people will think are amazingly negative,” said Alterman. “Hard to imagine him being scripted for the whole week.”
Trump has proposed drastically cutting the U.N. budget. The U.S. funds 25% of the organization’s operating budget and 30% of its peacekeeping budget.
"In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement," said Trump. "While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent, and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we are not seeing the results in line with this investment. But I know that under the secretary-general, that's changing and it's changing fast."
Although Trump has been critical of the U.N., he is optimistic about the organization’s future.
"The main message is: make the United Nations great - not again," said Trump on Monday. "Make the United Nations great. Such tremendous potential."
Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop agrees with Trump’s plan to reform the U.N.
"If there are ideas and ways that we can improve the performance of the United Nations, then, of course, Australia would welcome them," said Bishop to reporters in New York. "We want to ensure it is the most effective, efficient organization it can be and we were pleased that President Trump has supported UN reform."
Author’s note: By the end of the week, we should have a better idea of how the Trump administration plans to reform the U.N. and what the future holds for the Iran Deal, North Korea, and other issues impacting the U.N. But he does appear to have the support of the leadership, and a commitment from most of the world.
But in the meantime, he does appear to have the support of the leadership, and a commitment from most of the world.