Saturday, September 23, 2017

Drinking Through America's Global Decline at the World Cup for IR Nerds...


image from article
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)—the World Cup for IR nerds and New York City’s annual gridlocked, diplomatic, securitized circus of oft-cursed proportions—kicked off its high-level week on Monday. Hundreds of heads of state made their way to midtown Manhattan to deliver important foreign policy speeches and address the most pressing international issues of the moment.

As helicopters of various types buzzed overhead and roadblocks and checkpoints went up to protect the assembled world leaders, diplomats, journalists, celebrity ambassadors, and protesters that joined the fray, everybody braced themselves for Donald Trump’s maiden UNGA visit.

I’ve worked on public diplomacy issues at the UN for more than a decade now, but never experienced an UNGA like this. I’m sitting in a nearby bar having some beers, and trying to decompress from what I’ve seen over the past few days. ...

For a brief moment, there was a sense that Trump’s presence, his proposed USD $19 billion budget cuts to the UN and wholesale attacks on the UN’s raison d’être of peace through multilateral diplomacy might not be as bad as originally feared, or cause the wholesale embarrassment of the United States on the biggest global stage.

This sense was wrong.

When Trump took the podium on Tuesday morning, he unleashed a contradictory and belligerent speech that will be talked about for all of the wrong reasons at the UN for years to come. He threatened to “totally destroy North Korea,” a clear war crime. He advanced regime change in Iran and Venezuela after rambling repetitiously about state sovereignty. Unlike nearly every other world leader, he said nothing about climate change.

It was “American carnage” but for a global audience. It was “Axis of Evil” on performance-enhancing drugs. It was an absolute disgrace. ...
By Wednesday night, drinking was definitely in order. So I found myself contemplating the sharp decline of American soft power, and this country’s place in an increasingly volatile world, alongside a colleague from the UN Department of Political Affairs. We commiserated on the insanity of UN Week and Trump’s dark, disastrous visit over some much-needed beers in a firefighter dive bar a few blocks from the UN. ...

No comments: