How Will Trump Deal With the United Nations?

There’s a piece in the New York Times this weekend about the United Nations and its role in a Donald Trump world. While the article notes some of Trump’s complimentary words about the UN, it also points out some of the areas where the international body and the Trump administration could find themselves at sharp odds:

Sarah F. Cliffe, a former United Nations assistant secretary general […] said she expected a reprise of the tensions that erupted between the United States and the United Nations during the administration of President George W. Bush.


But Ms. Cliffe said Mr. Trump may also find the United Nations useful.

“He prides himself on making deals,” she said. “The U.N. is the forum where countries make deals in their own national interests but that also does some collective good.”

The Times goes on to note several areas where Trump and the UN may not be able to bridge the gap: climate change, refugees, and the Iran nuclear deal.

On the first, Trump has steadfastly maintained that he does not believe that climate change is a serious threat to the United States. He has called it a hoax, and his early prospects for the incoming administration appear to reflect that view. Trump and many other Republicans have called for the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris agreement.

This week, after speaking with Trump by phone, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was optimistic about changing the president-elect’s mind.

“As president of the United States, I am sure that he will understand this, he will listen, he will evaluate his campaign remarks,” Ban said.

The majority of Americans are not opposed to climate change efforts, but those efforts cannot conflict with our economic growth and competitiveness. If Trump can strike a balance that favors those interests, it will satisfy most of us. But nothing short of a federal ban on carbon emissions would satisfy the UN, so Trump shouldn’t worry too much about that.

As far as refugees are concerned, the UN isn’t going to win. Trump didn’t make much noise about climate change in his campaign, but he was very strict and very specific about refugees. He’s going to do everything possible to shut down the Syrian refugee program until his administration can put together a serious vetting process. No chance that the UN is going to get their way on this one.

As for the Iran deal…well, that’s the one that’s really up in the air. Now that the opportunity has arisen for the U.S. president to shred it, many Republicans are now urging him to stick with the plan. And that may be the best course at this point; after all, Iran already has the money. We might as well see at this point if we can hold them to the terms of the deal. Trump, of course, may not see it that way.


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