Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trump Speaks To The Nations of The World

At the United Nations. The message that was put into his mouth (perhaps by Stephen Miller)  is one of patriotic ethno-nationalism, of strong nation states putting themselves first, of big military expenditures guaranteeing future peace and prosperity.   Giving a speech like that is a little bit like spitting in the eye of the UN which was, of course, created as a more international attempt to maintain peace.

The speech also lists Trump's enemies:  North Korea, Iran,  Cuba and Venezuela, and mentions his "frenemy,"  Saudi Arabia, twice.   First in a slightly positive indirect way:

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations. We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

But later the speech is slightly more negative, hinting at a criticism of Saudi Arabia as one unidentified party with egregious human rights records that sits on the UN Human Rights Council:

For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Mmm.  And from 2018, Saudi Arabia will also sit on the UN Women's Rights Commission!  What miraculous value-compromises the ownership of oil produces!  Actually, that the worst violator of women's human rights gets to sit on that commission proves to me the sense of sadistic humor us divine creators possess.

The pure Trump shines through in some parts of the speech:

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

As Aaron Blake notes, in the comments of the speech at Washington Post, Trump seems to say that he is willing to slaughter every single North Korean.

Now that is a pretty extreme response to North Korea's stupid posturing, given the total lack of freedom of those 25 million severely oppressed North Koreans.  But it sounds great to Trump's base, that whiff of testosterone in the morning air!

Sadly, the audience of this speech is unlikely to belong to Trump's base.

Trump also returns to one of his grievances about the United Nations:  The US is expected to pay too high a share of the costs:

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more. In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes. The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.
So what would a fair share of those costs be?  It cannot be 193th share of the total costs, because such a division would bankrupt all the tiny countries and many of the poorer large ones, too.  The argument that the US pays too much is a little similar to the argument that the very rich (say the Koch brothers) should pay the same per-head taxes as a women working to clean hotel rooms.

After reading the speech I looked up what Adolph Hitler had to say about the League of Nations (the predecessor of the UN), not because I would compare Trump to Hitler, but because I wanted to see how  a clearly war-thirsty and blood-thirsty dictator viewed the League of Nations*.  Here's the relevant quote in which Hitler mentions the Treaty of Versailles after WWI:

And this Versailles was guaranteed by the new League of Nations - not a union of free nations, of similar nations, not a union of nations at all (the actual, founded nations stayed away) - a League of Nations whose sole task was to guarantee this most base of all agreements, this agreement which was not negotiated but instead purely forced upon us, and to force us to fulfill it. 
 Does that sound like Trump?  Probably not, though clearly dictators and wannabe dictators don't like supra-national powers, however weak.  I'd say that Trump's speech was somewhere between the above quote (though closer to that one) and this advertising ditty from 1971:

He is a businessman, after all.

* How can one read Trump's future plans?  How can we know what his bellicose language truly means?  What IS the nationalism that many of his advisers preach?  Because there are no answers, any possible source of information seems worth analyzing, Godwin's Law be damned.