Trump to Defend ‘America First,’ Emphasize Importance of Sovereignty in U.N. Speech

president-donald-trump-united-nations-general-assembly BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIAFPGetty Images

President Trump is expected to go global with his campaign cry of “America First” in his address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, in which he will emphasize the importance of national sovereignty as the basis for mutual international cooperation, a senior White House official said Monday.

Such a speech would mark a return by Trump to the foreign policy outlook that helped him blitz the Republican presidential primaries and win the White House in November. The Trump administration has been making nods towards a more globalist foreign policy in recent weeks, with an increased presence in Afghanistan and with administration officials appearing to wobble on the U.S. exit from the Paris climate deal.

But the official told reporters Monday that his speech will not just defend “America First” but also appeal to sovereignty as the basis for good mutual international cooperation — with Trump set to promote “not a top-down model of global bureaucracy but instead the nation-state as the best vehicle for the elevation of the human condition.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster had indicated Friday that Trump’s address would also feature a heavy emphasis on sovereignty.

“Sovereignty and accountability are the essential foundations of peace and prosperity,” McMaster said at the White House press briefing. “America respects the sovereignty of other countries, expects other nations to do the same, and urges all governments to be accountable to their citizens.”

In his address Tuesday, Trump is also expected to mention international crises such as North Korea and Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and urge other countries to do their part, explaining how burden sharing toward common goals, combined with a defense of common values, is the way forward for the U.N.

Trump used an address Monday to push for wide-ranging reform at the U.N., saying that while it was founded on noble goals, it had become bloated and lost its way.

“Yet in recent years the UN has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement while the United Nation’s regular budget has increased by 140 percent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000,” he said. “We are not seeing results in line with this investment.”

It is expected that Trump will call for reforms in his speech as well, supporting Secretary-General António Guterres’s own reform push in doing so.

Many U.N. officials and agencies have expressed skepticism about Trump’s “America First” strategy, and have been particularly spooked by proposals that would significantly cut U.S. financial contributions to the U.N.

But, the White House official said that Trump will use his address to lay out how “America First” does not indicate a withdrawing from international responsibilities, but is, in fact, a rational basis from which countries can then engage in international cooperation.

Guterres echoed a similar sentiment last week, noting that when he was prime minister of Portugal, it was his job to put Portugal first.

He went on to clarify that “it’s my deep belief that the best way to preserve the American interests is to engage positively in global affairs and to engage positively in support to multilateral organizations like the UN.”


Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics and U.N. reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY


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