If Republicans get crushed in the November elections, it certainly won’t be because voters rejected President Trump’s “America First” vision of global affairs, a message of sovereignty and patriotism that he laid out before the U.N. yesterday. It will be because voters never hear this message, as there is no sustained effort by GOP leaders to ensure a steady stream of policy fights that accentuate this winning message and drown out the daily soap opera rather than vice versa.
President Trump’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday was among his best and most presidential moments. He laid out a vision for American greatness in the world that belies the false dichotomy of globalism vs. isolationism. His doctrine of “principled realism” built upon nations’ mutual respect for one another’s sovereignty is really the updated version of Reagan’s “peace through strength” philosophy. It’s a political winner, which is why the media has no interest in covering it. But Republicans in Congress would be wise to champion it at every level of the legislative process. Of course, they won’t.
Here are the 10 most important points of the speech:
1) We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors, and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace.
This is a direct challenge to the Wilsonian approach without being isolationist. Trump laid out a doctrine of mutual cooperation, not based on vitiating each other’s sovereignty and diluting self-governance but based on protecting each other’s sovereignty from shared threats.
2) I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.
Despite accusations from detractors that Trump is all bombs and no diplomacy, he demonstrated his diplomatic chops by offering to make peace — from a position of strength. Sweet-talking Kim while making it clear that sanctions will remain until denuclearization was a classic example of Teddy Roosevelt’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach.
3) The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts.
Trump is the first president in modern history to finally bust the myth of the two-state solution as the end-all and instead recognizing that peace begins with speaking the truth about Israel’s rightful claims.
4) Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.
Trump delivered a no-holds-barred defense of ending the Iran deal. He squarely pinned the blame for chaos on Iran, a position fully consistent with his defense of sovereignty. Iran is violating everyone else’s sovereignty and poses a bigger threat than any Sunni country or terrorist group, a fact that has recently become clear with the evidence that Iran facilitated the 9/11 attacks and is still harboring al Qaeda. Had we only focused on Iran earlier rather than Iraq and Afghanistan, a view clearly held by Trump based on his frustration with the latter two countries, we’d be safer.
5) As far as America is concerned, the ICC [International Criminal Court] has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.
Trump’s rebuke of the ICC as well as the U.N. Human Rights Commission is the first time a president directly took the fight to the U.N. at its headquarters and celebrated his withdrawal from its corrupt agencies because they violate sovereignty.
6) America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.
Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination. […]
To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.
Here Trump showed that a rejection of globalism as it is currently understood is not a retreat from the world. Quite the contrary, it takes strong, sovereign nations, led by America, to truly combat global threats, when properly identified.
7) Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states, such as Poland, for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.
This was one of the numerous times where Trump praised Poland for standing strong for sovereignty and against tyranny. He demonstrated how America’s prosperity is good for global peace and stability. Criticizing Germany for being a vassal to Russia was the closest he came to criticizing Putin. Given that Russia is one of the biggest violators of sovereignty, I would have loved for Trump to directly call out Putin for his return to the Cold War arms race and meddling in Latin America, but he stopped short of doing so.
8) We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same — which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.
Trump recognized that border security is the cornerstone of sovereignty, not just for America, but for all nations. If the true goals of peace and prosperity that this body supposedly seeks to fulfill are to be achieved, we must respect each other’s sovereignty rather than violate it. He spoke at length on how the current refugee and asylum policies are bad for the West and bad for legitimate refugees who should be resettled at a lower cost closer to their homes. He also connected the migration flow to the drug crisis. Unfortunately, he is on the cusp of signing a budget that funds the border invasion and an “opioid crisis package” that ignores the role the border plays.
9) Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.
This is something other administrations and certainly members of Congress have griped about privately, but Trump is the first one to lay down the gauntlet at the U.N. itself.
10) America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again.
This was, perhaps, the most important declaration of all. Trump announced that he is willing to challenge the established way of approaching international affairs and smash the false idols and false choices of the past. It’s just a shame there isn’t a stronger infrastructure of realist patriotism in Washington, as the town is monopolized by the old way of approaching foreign policy espoused by the leadership of both parties.
Overall, this was one of Trump’s best speeches of his presidency, but it will unfortunately be overshadowed. It would help if he would threaten to veto budget bills that don’t contain his priorities on immigration, border security, foreign aid, and approach to Iran. It would also help if he were more consistently tough on Russia. It would be great if he delivered a series of follow-up speeches on principled realism and establishing a new Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere to combat meddling from Russia, China, and Iran. He should also further channel his call for sovereignty by threatening to form a counter-alliance to the U.N. for nations in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America who have mutual interest in fighting the goals of mass migration and Islamic supremacism.
For now, Trump deftly laid out the case for patriotism and sovereignty as the cornerstones of good international relations, not as its demise. Where are the conservative groups and members of Congress developing a new strategy to fight the discredited dogma of the “experts”?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.