Brief #50—Foreign Policy

Policy Summary
On September 25th, President Trump delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, complete with all of his signature vague jingoism and confrontational barbs. Following a year of withdrawals and cuts to international agreements and organizations, from the Iran Deal to the UN Relief Works Agency funding for Palestinian refugees, Trump’s speech reflected this desire for nationalist individualism, stating “I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.”

Trump’s speech comes at a period of great tension with the EU, largely in response to his withdrawal from the Iran Deal. While the US has promised sanctions on businesses dealing with Iran, the EU has threatened sanctions on those who withdraw, forcing them to choose their allegiances. After a recent announcement of tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, Trump also claimed that  China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election… against my administration”, but failed to provide any evidence for his claim.

The following day, Trump addressed the United Nations Security Council. The council session had originally been called by the UK to discuss last July’s nerve agent attack on Russians living in the UK within the context of the global issue of weapons of mass destruction. When Trump learned that Vice President Pence was planned to represent the US, he insisted on his own presence in his stead, and changed the topic of the talk to the danger of Iran. When he later learned that this would involve inviting a delegation from Iran to respond, he changed the topic to that of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, just days before the council session. While much of Trump’s speech still focused upon Iran, he did mention the necessity maintaining sanctions on North Korea, a position opposed by China and Russia, who announced that it was time to ease sanctions, citing the recent halting of nuclear testing.

Trump has no real ideological commitment to American isolationism. He wields the vast power the United States holds over the global community when it serves his interests, and many of his isolationist positions are simply rejections of the weak international restraints placed on American power. The United States has not been, as Trump claims, “committed to a future of peace and stability in [Israel], including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” but rather sold billions of dollars worth of weapons to the Israeli government, unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, withdrew US aid to the Palestinians,  and bullied third party countries who voted in support of Israel at the UN.

Billions of dollars in weapons have also been sold to the Saudi Arabian government as part of the United States’ support for a brutal war in Yemen which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. Breaking the Iran Deal is an enormous aggression against the prosperity and security of Iran, levying sanctions which once led to an almost doubling of the poverty rate and a rise in anti-American sentiment in the region. Trump also  has reportedly considered an invasion of Venezuela. It’s become clear that he only remembers his isolationist principles when he wants to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, or ignore the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court in investigating war crimes, fearing that these organizations could stand in the way of US/Israeli/Saudi hegemony in the Middle East.

Resistance Resources

  • Roots Action – An online activist group devoted to pushing US domestic and foreign policy in a progressive direction
  • The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights: The USCPR is an organization founded in 2001 with the mission of shifting US policy towards recognizing the human rights of Palestinians.

 This Brief was submitted by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Colin Shanley; Contact

Photo by Jose Moreno

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