Donny from marketing goes to the United Nations

Scott Gilmore: Trump’s much-awaited and ultimately amateurish UN speech confirmed that America’s relevance continues to shrink

President Donald Trump speaks to world leaders at the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017 in New York City. This is Trump's first appearance at the General Assembly where he addressed threats from Iran and North Korea among other global concerns. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to world leaders at the 72nd United Nations (UN) General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Observers on both sides of the political spectrum have been looking forward to the arrival of President Donald Trump at the United Nations this week. His supporters giddily anticipated the sight of an American leader finally giving the finger to the “cosmopolitan globalists”, the cabal of Soros-funded socialists in black helicopters who they see as the greatest existential threat to the republic. With equally unseemly pleasure, his detractors expected the president to once again embarrass himself in front of the world.

But it is unlikely either group found satisfaction in his maiden address at UN headquarters.

Trump did give one of the best speeches of his political career. But that needs to be qualified. We have become so accustomed to his self-aggrandizing asides, the rambling anecdotes, the sentence fragments and lies and bluster, that when he manages to simply read from a teleprompter it is a major step forward. Nonetheless the tone, the cadence, the reflexive hand gestures were still more reminiscent of a speaker at a multilevel marketing seminar than a global statesman at the General Assembly.

READ MORE: At the UN, bracing for the arrival of Donald Trump

And, Trump did try to shake up the clubby UN world. His speech was bookended with calls for greater national self-interest—arguing every country is obligated to make itself great again. It was possibly the first time since William Howard Taft that an American president stood on an international stage and called for less multilateralism. But, then the president listed off what he considered to be the most pressing problems facing the world and announced it was up to the United Nations to fix them.

The president brought the bellicose thunder that plays so well at his campaign rallies. He called North Korean President Kim Jong-Un “Rocketman” and threatened to “totally destroy” his country. He attacked Iran, and Venezuela, and Cuba and implicitly criticized Russia and China. He talked about the “loser terrorists”. But his aggressive rhetoric barely registered among the hundreds of gathered leaders and diplomats. No one gasped or murmured. The Iranian representative played on his iPhone. The North Korean took a few notes. When he attacked socialism, Trump waited several increasingly awkward seconds for applause that never came. After eight months in office, the world knows he is a president that must be carefully managed, but at the same time he is not a man that can be taken seriously.

When it was over, the applause was polite. Israeli President Bibi Netanyahu smiled, but few others did, not even the First Lady. Trump’s address to the General Assembly was not the triumph his fans expected, and it was not the embarrassment his foes wanted.

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There was nothing new and no surprises. His threats might be real, but they rarely are. His strategy might be sincere, but is unlikely to be executed. His diplomats might be useful in the collective struggle to fight climate change, or find peace, or end poverty, but fewer than half came this year.

The United States might still be a superpower, but once again there are others. Trump may be president, but he matters less now than he did six months ago. And his speech likely confirmed for many in the audience that America also matters less than it did before—it is no longer “the leader of the free world”.

It is this last fact, and not the president’s speech, that will dominate everything else that goes on at the UN General Assembly. Russia and China are rapidly pushing their interests ahead as the United States retreats. American allies like Canada and Europe are re-aligning and building new coalitions. This new paradigm will influence every meeting and every discussion on every issue in New York this week. The Trump sideshow is over. Everyone has work to do. The world is moving on.


Donny from marketing goes to the United Nations

  1. The world is aware that the Emperor has no clothes.

    As you say they are moving on.

  2. The emperor may not have any clothes but he is still very much in charge. Sorry Gilmore

    • He wasn’t in charge in the first place, much less now.

      Trump is the alt-clown.

    • Um…no.That’s hilarious.

  3. An excellent synopsis by Scott. The UN will soon move to Singapore, and fusion power will displace oil interests – humanism will make itself felt. Why?
    Because we must, and puerile personalities like Trump belong to their progenitors. So there.

    • … except that the deeply rooted corruption of the UN will follow it no matter where it goes. Trump is a clown, but why the US is still footing 25% of the UN’s bills for the dinner parties and chauffeured Mercedes for the UN is a reasonable question.
      The UN has great potential value, but we need to stop kowtowing to the premise that it is a shining light in the hill. It needs a top to bottom reno… before it blunders into further irrelevance.

  4. You may not have liked his speech, I’m sure a lot of people didn’t, the truth hurts. Can anyone say he was wrong in any of his points of view?

    • Well said Hutchins, I agree but a lot of what he says should happen never will. As to the sabre rattling against NK, Japan,SK or China should level NK first, that is unless the rocket man attacks the US.

    • He did everything but bang his shoe on the podium.

    • No he was not wrong, it is just that so many bureaucrats and supporters of the UN live in a fantasy world thinking that the work the UN does actually has meaning rather than the UN just being a corrupt, bloated and ineffective organization.

      It was refreshing to hear a US President say those words rather than try to get the UN idiots to ‘like’ him. I don’t really care if he follows through our not (I hope he does), but someone needed to burst the UN ballon

      • Every point he made was wrong…….and he breached the UN Charter doing it

        • Oops, now, you’ve really jumped off the cliff, Em.

  5. Same old same old from Macleans – we don’t like Trump, Trump is mean, Trump’s supporters are idiots – big yawn.

    Finally there is a US President that isn’t trying to curry favour with a corrupt, bloated and totally ineffective and useless organization – yes I’m talking about the UN. Trump hit all the bureaucrats who live at the expense of taxpayers and accomplish nothing right between the eyes. And they deserve it.

    Guess what? – there are rouge regimes that are causing havoc throughout the world and the UN continues to be blind. Yes they pass sanctions after sanctions that do nothing, but they all congratulate themselves on how wonderful and insightful they are. Bull!

    Their Human Rights Commission is stocked with countries that are some of the biggest violators of human rights in the world and yet the chattering classes throughout the West will continue to heed anything that group states as long as it is directed against the US or Israel.

    The flaw in socialism is not implementation, but the actual concept itself – it leads to the politics of envy, does not raise living standards and uses citizens as pawns in the games of the political elite.

    The UN needs to crash and burn and maybe rebuilt (but I’m really not sure why it would be rebuilt as it has accomplished pretty much nothing since its inception). Name one, sustainable accomplishment of the UN – peacekeeping? Sure that works NOT! Work of its various agencies – at what cost? For the money spend chattering and meeting all around the world, the results are the labour of an elephant to produce a mouse.

    Finally someone stated the obvious. North Korea (and by extension Iran) has been warned. It is their choice to heed that warning or not.

    The bureaucrats at the UN have also been warned and the US might just take its 25% contribution to their party and quit (and then the next thing is that they would be asked to leave US territory – I’m sure the bureaucrats would love living in Venezuela just as much as downtown New York City)

    • Maureen55- Well said.

    • Nice rant, Maureen… but it completely misses the point.
      If Trump wants to stomp on Iran and NK, he has exactly 2 choices:

      1. Go it alone, in which case the US will lose allies, lose troops and lose money by being dragged into yet ANOTHER overseas war…. despite the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq are still a mess after 2 decades of expensive conflict.

      2. Get their allies to help (UN or NATO) in which case he needs these people he keeps insulting to stand between the US and their enemies. This may surprise Trump (and you, apparently) but people you insult aren’t generally inclined to help you.

      As much as you go on and on about everybody you hate, the reality of the situation is that there aren’t a lot of options in dealing with rogue or adversarial nations. If you aren’t willing to apply diplomatic solutions (and obviously you’re not) then your choices are fight (and pay) the war yourself or get others to help. Trump’s made it pretty clear both to NATO and the UN that he doesn’t think much of them…. so who do you think is going to want to fight Trump’s wars for him?

      Diplomacy is about mutual shared interests. Trump thinks what’s good for him is good for everybody and that he can make anyone do whatever he wants. He’s going to discover he’s wrong.

    • I agree. Maureen55; Well said.

  6. Scott Gilmore’s much-awaited and ultimately amateurish comments confirmed that his relevance continues to shrink.

  7. I too agree with Maureen55 no matter what Komarades Gilmore, E1 or Matthews who sprout the standard Lirano talking Points…

  8. Thank God we have Justin Trudeau ready, willing, and able to step into the breach left in American world leadership by Trump.

    • Eleanor, I certainly hope that your comment is intended to be sarcasm.

      • There is no problem in the world that can not be solved with a winsome smile and platitudes. Hugs all round!