Trump’s reality television 'gunfight' at the UN corral

The vote was more about the right of the US to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate its embassy there than it was about Israeli sovereignty.

December 22, 2017 16:48
3 minute read.

Haley: US will "remember" this day of being "singled out" for US Jerusalem announcement (Reuters)

Haley: US will "remember" this day of being "singled out" for US Jerusalem announcement (Reuters)


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If US President Donald Trump had lived in the 19th century wild west, he might have stood in the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona and fired his pistol.

But in the 21st century, Trump can forget that kind of one-shot deal.

A former business man with a lighting quick finger on Twitter, the UN General Assembly is the perfect spot for diplomatic reality TV style, diplomatic knock-down fights that can be serialized to his advantage.

It’s a stage in which the Palestinian Authority often starred, excelling at using the UN to highlight world support for a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines and excising Jerusalem from the state of Israel.

Such resolutions are voted on so often, in various UN venues, that they have become almost boiler plate. The latest UNGA vote on Jerusalem in November passed with the support of 151 nations — out of 193 — garnered very few headlines.

And when it comes to Israel in general, so many votes are cast against the Jewish state — over 20 in the UNGA alone in 2017 — that it has become almost too easy for the Palestinians to make their case of an isolated and publicly besieged Jewish state.

What upped the ante for the Palestinians this last year, and refocused the spotlight in their direction, was the introduction of a new diplomatic foe, the United States.

While the topic was still Jerusalem and Israel, the failed UN Security Council vote and the successful UNGA one, made headlines, largely because it was America’s standing and not Israel’s, that stood on the line.

The vote was more about the right of the US to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate its embassy there than it was about Israeli sovereignty and Jewish historic rights to the biblical city.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley summed it up best when she told the UNGA plenum that she stood there “forced to defend sovereignty and the integrity of my country – the United States of America.”

After the resolution denouncing the US declaration was approved, she added, she underscored the point by stating, the “United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.”

Chinese and Russian media portrayed Thursday vote as a loss for an isolated US who had to resort to threats to be heard.

But in reality, at least in the UN Security Council, it is Russia which has exercised its veto power five times this year, while the US voted with the majority of countries to approve measures, particularly pertaining to Syria.

Already in a game of nuclear chicken for North Korea, the UNGA to the perfect spot to let its opponents know that this administration will not hesitate to stand strong and take action.

Domestically, Trump must cater to the ballot box. But when it comes to the international arena, however, the Trump Administration, is not looking for adoring fans or to be seen as one who will compromise for the sake of agreement.

Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip style is fed by conflict, not chocolates and valentines. He is a man seeking a stage where he show he has the courage to stand tall and strong. The larger the international opposition, the stronger he appears when he bucks it.

Dividing the world into friend and foe, particularly on an issue like Jerusalem, which plays well with Christian voters, is part of the new US approach to foreign policy.

With that in mind, Haley wasted no time, lauding the 65 nations who refused to vote for the Jerusalem resolution, nine with no votes, 35 with abstentions and 21 countries who chose to absent.

According to Fox News, she has already sent them an invitation to January 3rd reception of gratitude.

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