President-elect Donald Trump announced on November 23 that he had selected South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (shown) for the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Trump said in a statement that Haley has “a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country.”
Reuters reported that Haley said she had accepted the offer and would remain governor pending her confirmation to the Cabinet-level post by the U.S. Senate. Since she has little foreign-policy experience, Haley does not bring an identifiable perspective to her new position that would signal how she might handle her new responsibilities.
The only explanation that Trump provided for selecting Haley for the UN post was in a statement saying, “She is … a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”
For an indication of how U.S. policy toward the UN might unfold in the new administration, we must look to statements Trump, himself, has made.
During the course of his campaign for the White House, Trump made several statements that indicated he has an unfavorable opinion of the UN — though he never went as far as advocating complete U.S. withdrawal from the world body.
Trump delivered some of his strongest criticisms of the UN during a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on March 21, in which he said, "The United Nations is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States of America where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel."
Trump continued by commenting on discussions attempting to bring about a Security Council resolution on terms of an eventual agreement between Israel and Palestine. His reaction? "Let me be clear: An agreement imposed by the United Nations would be a total and complete disaster." He said that should those discussions lead to a UN Security Council resolution, “The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto, which I will use as president 100 percent.” He continued by saying, “When I’m president, believe me, I will veto any attempt by the U.N. to impose its will on the Jewish state. It will be vetoed 100 percent.”
Trump has also indicated that he might withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement — purportedly designed to reduce global warming — negotiated within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in late 2015. The New York Times said the Paris agreement is “widely regarded as the most important United Nations achievement in years. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President Obama invested a great deal of political energy in its success.”
Trump has voiced skepticism that human activity contributes to global warming, as indicated in several of his tweets, including: “Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don't believe it $$$$!” and “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
The Times noted in its November 19 article about major difference between Trump and the UN:
Even if Mr. Trump does not withdraw the United States from the [Paris] accord, he could ignore important commitments, including cuts in carbon emissions or contributions to a global fund to help poor countries deal with the damage wrought by climate change. American disregard of the accord could cause other countries to renege on their promises as well.
On November 2, just days before the presidential election, Trump said at a Florida campaign rally that he would “cancel billions in global warming payments to the United Nations” if he became president.
“We will also cancel billions in global warming payments to the United Nations, and use that money to support America’s vital environmental infrastructure and natural resources,” he was quoted by the Daily Caller.
This was another indication that Trump would resist UN programs that he regards as contrary to America’s best interests.
Trump’s frequent use of the term “America First” in speeches suggests that he advocates a spirit of independence not often seen in recent U.S. presidents and a philosophy that has placed him at odds with the globalists who have been the UN’s biggest advocates.
When Trump used the term in a major foreign-policy speech organized by the National Interest magazine in Washington on April 27, it made headlines. The Washington Post quoted from Trump’s speech: “My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. That will be the foundation of every single decision that I will make. ‘America First’ will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”
While the Post’s reporting on the speech was fairly unbiased, an opinion piece by Williams College professor Susan Dunn posted by CNN the following day reached into the past to condemn his choice of words, harkening back to the America First Committee formed by patriotic noninterventionists on the eve of America’s entry into World War II. Dunn’s article correctly listed some of the respected individuals who helped form the committee, including several who would serve in future presidential administrations, including John F. Kennedy’s future brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Other distinguished individuals named in the article involved with America First were future President Gerald Ford, and Potter Stewart, the future Supreme Court justice. Other well-respected individuals helping to form America First were Robert Wood, the board chairman of Sears, Roebuck; Col. Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune; Minnesota meat company president Jay Hormel; Sterling Morton, the president of Morton Salt Company; and the American aviator and national hero, Charles Lindbergh.
In her article, Dunn stooped to resurrecting the unfounded smears leveled against America First’s leadership back in the early 1940s, calling it “the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.”
The “isolationist” label is often used today to criticize noninterventionists such as former Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Trump has had charges of being “racist” and “xenophobic” thrown at him, mainly because of his opposition to uncontrolled migration from Latin American and Muslim countries.
However, Dunn’s main criticism of Trump was not his foreign-policy views, but his use of the term “America First.” Perhaps she feels that it would be better to put America last.
In an article published by The New American in August, we quoted a statement from Admiral Chester Ward, a former judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy and a member of the internationalist Council on Foreign Relations — whose members were instrumental in establishing the UN — from 1959-1977. According to Ward, the goal of the CFR is the “submergence of U.S. sovereignty and national independence into an all-powerful one-world government.” Closer to our point, Admiral Ward also noted, “In the entire CFR lexicon, there is no term of revulsion carrying a meaning so deep as ‘America First.’”
If Ward was correct, then Trump’s frequent use of the term certainly did not endear him to America’s ruling establishment.
Trump continues to employ the term. AFP reported this week that he has announced the United States will signal its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on his first day in the White House, as one of six immediate steps aimed at “putting America first.”
Trump’s statement, recorded in a video message, continued, "My agenda will be based on a simple core principle: putting America first. On trade, I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country."
While Trump signaled his intention to withdraw from the TPP, despite his frequent criticism of individual parts of the UN’s programs, he has not gone so far as to advocate complete withdrawal of the United States from the UN.
However, if Trump really means what he says, then there can hardly be any better action he could take to “put America first” than to withdraw from that international body that constantly seeks to undermine America’s interests.
One member of Congress, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), introduced a bill last year to restore U.S. sovereignty and withdraw from the United Nations. In a statement announcing the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2015 (H.R. 1205), Representative Rogers noted that many of his constituents in East Alabama would likely agree with his position that U.S. government participation in the UN should end immediately. “The U.N. continues to prove it’s an inefficient bureaucracy and a complete waste of American tax dollars,” the congressman said, echoing widespread concerns about the international outfit expressed across America and worldwide.
We can hope that Rogers will reintroduce this bill in the next Congress and that President Trump will support it as part of his commitment to put America first.
Photo: AP Images