Articles & Thoughts

Chief of Staff John Kelly at the U.N. showing what Vanity Fair calls

his “existential dread”. He was supposed to “right the ship” ?John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, during Donald Trump's speech at the United Nations.

Right and Left React to Trump’s Speech at the U.N.

         from The New York Times

From the Right:

Sohrab Ahmari in Commentary:

“The speech offered the clearest sign yet that the administration has parted with Steve Bannon and other Breitbart types who wanted to use Trump as a bulldozer against liberal order.”

Establishment Republicans should rejoice at the president’s speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, writes Mr. Ahmari, and “give credit where it is due.” According to him, the address marks a “return to the G.O.P.’s postwar foreign-policy traditions” and a shedding of the “pinched, narrow nationalism” of hyper-nationalists like the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen or Mr. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist. Read more »

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Daniel Larison in The American Conservative:

“U.S. foreign policy already suffers from far too much self-congratulation and excessive confidence in our own righteousness, so it was alarming to hear Trump speak in such stark, fanatical terms about international affairs.”

Articulating the views of the isolationist wing of conservatives, Mr. Larison criticizes Mr. Trump’s belligerent tone. He compares the president’s confrontational talk with President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” remarks, and worries that Mr. Trump’s speech will commit the United States to more “avoidable wars.” This, according to Mr. Larison, has nothing to do with “putting American interests first.” Read more »

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Rich Lowry in National Review:

“Donald Trump’s speech at the United Nations was a sometimes awkward marriage of conventional Republican foreign policy and a very basic version of Trump’s nationalism.”

While some of the president’s more colorful language was sure to turn heads at the General Assembly — “we’ve never heard such direct, undiplomatic language from a U.S. president at Turtle Bay” — Mr. Lowry is not unhappy with Mr. Trump’s address. “All things considered and given the alternatives, it was a fine speech,” he writes, though he would have liked the president to emphasize “how important a vision of liberal democracy was to the United States.” Read more »

From the Left:

Fred Kaplan in Slate:

“If respect for sovereignty is a pillar of world order, should anyone care what ideology or economic system a country decides to pursue, as long as it doesn’t seek to impose it on others?”

Mr. Kaplan appraises Mr. Trump’s speech as perhaps the “most hostile, dangerous and intellectually confused” address by an American president to an international audience. According to Mr. Kaplan, the president was particularly contradictory in his remarks on sovereignty, arguing that “he invoked sovereignty when it suited his purposes — and proposed violating sovereignty, without a thought, when it didn’t.”

Spencer Ackerman in The Daily Beast:

“Whatever nexus between Putin and Trump exists for Robert Mueller to discover, the evidence of their compatible visions of foreign affairs was on display at the United Nations clearer than ever, with Trump’s aggressive incantation of ‘sovereignty, security and prosperity’ as the path to world peace.”

Not only was this speech a “worthy successor” to the president’s inaugural address — the “American carnage” speech — but it also resembles the United Nations address that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia gave to the international body in 2015. And though Mr. Trump briefly mentioned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, his speech signals a potential opening to a “resurgent, aggressive Russia.”

Paul Waldman in The Washington Post:

“Does Trump actually think that if he issues a few more bellicose threats then North Korea will agree to give up its nuclear weapons? It would not be unreasonable for Kim to believe that his nuclear weapons are the only thing keeping the United States from launching a war against him.”

Mr. Waldman asks his readers to put themselves in the place of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Why would any of Mr. Trump’s threats — and hints that he was willing to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal — sway Mr. Kim to give up his own nuclear weapons?

Heather Digby Parton in Salon:

“One might even call this speech ‘Global Carnage.’Trump described a Hobbesian world in which decent countries everywhere are under assault from ‘small regimes’ trying to undermine their sovereignty and destroy their ways of life.”

Ms. Parton suggests an alternate title for the president’s speech: “Global Carnage.” In her assessment, Mr. Trump “careened wildly from some warped form of principled realism to threats of mass annihilation and back again.” She also notes that for all his talk about sovereignty, Mr. Trump has notabley ignored a particular instance of international interference: suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. election. “As long as foreign actors interfere on his personal behalf he has no problem with it,” she writes.