Alright, it is time to talk about President Trump’s speech to the UN. He just got off the stage about an hour ago, and I wanted to share with you the basic architecture of the speech, some of the major themes, and what they mean for Trump’s nationalist populist agenda.
He began with an America First nationalism as the model for the world. Trump made it clear that As President of the United States, that he will always put Americans first, just as all the leaders should be putting their citizens first. And he got some applause on that one. He affirmed that the nation state is and remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition, as governments work for the benefit of their own citizens, but also as they work together to protect and perpetuate the prosperity and safety of our mutual citizens. So a nationalist populist domestic policy entails by definition a cooperative relationship with other nations as such a co-op creates optimal material conditions and security protections for the flourishing of their own respective citizens.
So ‘sovereignty, security, and prosperity’ constituted collectively the opening theme of his speech; and it really is Trump at his best. The world really is safer, as he said, when nations are strong, independent and free. “Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity and peace for themselves and for the world. We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.”
This is a nationalist as opposed to globalist geopolitics, or what Alexandr Dugin calls a multipolar geopolitics as opposed to a unipolar geopolitics, where a one-size-fits-all approach is imposed on all member nations. This of course is the fundamental problem with globalization; globalization operates according to the principle of standardization, where all economic systems or legal codes are standardized according to a single economic and political model, such as liberal democracy, human rights, environmental regulations, and centralized banks and monetary policy. Trump is in effect saying, those days are gone as far as the US is concerned; we are not promoting a unipolar, standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to geopolitics. We instead affirm a sovereignty of nations to govern as they wish for the benefit and the flourishing of their individual citizens.
So this was the first theme of his UN speech; an America First or multipolar geopolitics.
Then he went on to rogue states, those who don not play by these rules, those who want to destroy sovereign nations and their cooperative alliances. He took particularly North Korea and their pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He made it clear that the US will have no choice but to ‘totally destroy North Korea,’ those were his words, if the UN doesn not step in and impose massive sanctions on North Korea, cutting off all trade with this rogue regime led by what Trump calls a ‘rocket man,’ Kim Jong-un, who Trump said is on a suicide mission. He did in fact thank Russia and China for voting to impose sanctions on North Korea. Then he went on to denounce Iran as a rogue regime that supports global terrorism. What’s concerning about this theme in the speech is that I am hearing the return of Bush’s axis of evil: Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, and with it the potential for the revitalization of the Wilsonian foreign policy of the neocons. This is the language of the militaristic globalists that makes the likes of a Sen Graham or McCain just start dancing jigs.
Trump did go on to utterly explode the Iran deal; he thinks it is an utter embarrassment to the US, and alluded that we would be revisiting the fulfillment of that deal. And in the same vein, he boasted that we have almost completely wiped out ISIS and are in the process of de-escalating the whole Syrian crisis. And he exhorted the UN to join together to destroy ‘radical Islamic terrorism’. Yes he had the gall to use those words; we must drive these people out of our nations, and punish all nations and organizations that support them. We need to work together to crush what he calls the ‘loser terrorists’ and stop the safe havens where they mobilize and plan.
He denounced as well Cuba and Venezuela for basically robbing their people blind and making a mess of their economies. Trump had a great line in there; The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. Awesome! And he of course exhorted the UN to pressure Cuba and Venezuela to implement electoral and political reforms that work on behalf of citizens rather than against it.
So that would be the second theme of his UN speech; as we are all sovereign nations who work together for the betterment of our citizens, the most pressing need for mutual cooperation is the defeat of rogue nations and global terrorism.
Then he got into immigration, and again, this is where Trump shines. I do not know how much the UN appreciates it, but this is certainly a theme that is resonating all over the world. And I am just going to read from the transcript here: “We have learned that over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries. For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms. For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are born overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.”
Again, this theme of the ‘forgotten citizen’ is a huge Steve Bannon theme that made its way into the Trump lexicon. If you remember from our other videos analyzing the political philosophy of Steve Bannon, he observed that globalization is inherently an urbanized phenomenon. Globalization centralizes and standardizes economies around mass corporations and corporate centers on the one hand, while de-industrializing particularly Western economies by sending labor, manufacturing, and industry to the global south. This is what’s known as the globalized division of labor: manufacturing goes to the global south while finance and capital coalesce around the urbanized centers of the global north. And so, in our nation, the so-called fly-over country, you know, Pennsytucky as it were, is completely left out of all of this. It is disenfranchised and in effect forgotten from this emerging globalist economy. To make matters even worse, when someone in a rural area goes looking for jobs with a landscaper or restaurant kitchen, they find all the jobs taken by illegal immigrants who works for a couple of bucks an hour. Here’s what Trump said: “For too long the American people were told that mammoth, multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunal and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success. But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared. Others gamed the system and broke the rules, and our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again.”
Trump is channeling Steve Bannon here, as he should, because as I make the argument repeatedly, nationalist populism is the politics of the future.
A fourth theme, it was actually rather brief, was the need for the UN to reform. He did the same thing of course with NATO. He mentioned that while the US is simply one of nearly 200 nations in the UN, we still pay over 20 percent of the entire budget, which is ridiculously unfair to the American tax payer. And amen and amen to that!!! And he called out the assembly for having human rights abusing nations chairing the human rights council. Again, there is little to argue with there.
All and all, I thought it was an excellent speech. Trump established an America first multipolar geopolitics as the guiding foreign policy of his administration; he got a little too close to the Wilsonian foreign policy, for my tastes at least, with invoking the member nations of the axis of evil. We will have to see where he goes with that. He was brilliant with uncontrolled immigration as a global crisis that needs to be addressed by the UN, as well as reforms that need to be implemented. It was a very good, very clear speech, and with just a few exceptions, it was just another example of the triumph of nationalist populism that is in fact sweeping the world.