September 26, 2020 | Washington Examiner

Trump succeeded where the UN failed

September 26, 2020 | Washington Examiner

Trump succeeded where the UN failed

President Trump’s speech this week to the United Nations General Assembly highlighted an uncomfortable truth for many foreign diplomats: Trump’s sometimes unconventional foreign policy has succeeded in four short years where traditional U.N. multilateralism has failed for decades.

Take, for example, the recent peace deals signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. These agreements were the result of a United States-led peace initiative widely condemned by professional diplomats and self-styled foreign policy experts. After Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution that condemned the move. The General Assembly later voted 128-9 to denounce America’s decision.

The General Assembly’s position on Jerusalem, of course, paled in comparison to the U.N.’s many decades of financing hatred in the Middle East toward Israel and Jews through its duplicative Palestinian-related committees, the Israel-bashing Human Rights Council, and the U.N. agency for so-called Palestinian refugees. These raise and educate generation after generation to hate Israelis and reject any peace that doesn’t lead to Israel’s destruction.

How embarrassing, then, to recognize today that Trump’s American-led multilateral initiative succeeded in bringing peace to the Middle East, while U.N. multilateralism only prolonged the conflict. For Middle Eastern peace, the U.N. was the problem, not the solution.

This week, just days after the signing of historic peace accords, the U.N. secretary-general could not bring himself to mention the agreements in his speech before the General Assembly. Why? Because they defy the U.N.’s failed logic that Arab-Israeli peace could never exist until a Palestinian state was established.

Trump’s peace initiative was conducted contrary to the U.N.’s wishes, but it was still multilateral. He opted for quiet outreach to Persian Gulf nations and Israel in place of high-profile summits and meetings of the Security Council or General Assembly. Trump thus upended the anti-Israel orthodoxies of U.N. agencies and succeeded in advancing peace — a seemingly abandoned mission of the U.N. system.

The story is the same when it comes to maintaining international security. The Middle East is already the most dangerous region in the world — and Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, is its most dangerous resident. Selling conventional arms to Iran would be like selling kerosene and matches to a known arsonist, perhaps the textbook definition of a threat to international peace and security.

But the Security Council decided last month to allow the U.N. arms embargo on Iran to expire in October. Moreover, when Trump triggered a process known as “snapback” to reimpose all U.N. sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, the Security Council refused to acknowledge the move.

Keep in mind, of course, that Iran is one of the worst abusers of human rights in the world. It is a leading state sponsor of anti-Semitism and has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction. The regime is also under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency for potentially breaching the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Put simply, Iran is the antithesis of every founding value of the U.N., but the Security Council thinks it’s a good idea to let China and Russia flood this rogue state with advanced conventional arms.

Traditional American allies on the Security Council, such as the United Kingdom and France, have unfortunately retreated to a 1930s foreign policy, seeking to avoid confrontation with dangerous regimes at all costs. Their views align with those of former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic Party elites who favor a return to the Iran nuclear deal. This transatlantic axis of appeasement prefers paying Iran’s extortion racket, avoiding confrontation today while guaranteeing far bloodier conflict down the road. For an institution built on the ashes of World War II, the lessons of the past have been all but forgotten in the Security Council 75 years later.

Here, too, we see a case in which U.N. multilateralism is the problem, and an American-led multilateral approach outside of the Security Council presents a solution. Trump on Monday issued an executive order threatening secondary sanctions against Russian and Chinese defense firms if they transfer weapons to Iran. The deterrent power of U.S. sanctions, alongside economic market leverage from Persian Gulf allies and Israel, will force Russian and Chinese arms purchasers to cut ties with Moscow and Beijing if either country violates those sanctions.

Trump’s detractors decry the move as unilateralism in the face of U.S. isolation. In truth, Trump’s snapback is supported by Iran’s neighbors and will prove more effective than the U.N. itself in fulfilling its mission.

Globalists posit that U.N. multilateralism is the cure for nearly every problem facing the world. But Trump brokered peace in the Middle East and stopped Russia and China from arming a state sponsor of terrorism despite the U.N., not because of it. This is a paradox that all Americans must confront as the U.N. sets out on its next 75 years.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He served on Capitol Hill, on the U.S. National Security Council, as the chief of staff for Illinois’s governor, and as a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer. Follow him on Twitter @rich_goldberg.


Arab Politics China Gulf States International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Nuclear Iran Sanctions Israel Palestinian Politics Russia