The parade of diplomatic visitors to the United Nations starts in mid-September with the U.S. president in a starring role on the first day of the annual event. Having financially slashed key UN programs, are there any activities left he can damage? Or will his speech focus on “enemies” like Iran?
Last year, President Donald Trump stressed his “America First” theme at a house built on multinationalism, to the chagrin of many diplomats and an immediate rebuff from French President Emmanuel Macron on the podium. Trump had argued that sovereignty always took precedence.
The Trump administration has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal approved by the UN Security Council, has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord (denies human-induced pollutants), refused to attend a UN global meeting on migration (We have nothing to learn there?), cut money from women’s reproductive health programs, sliced UN aid to Palestinians and even revoked a visa to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
U.S. Isolated on Iran
Good to the administration’s word, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo recently lectured the UN Security Council on the dangers of Iran and the need for sanctions. One after another, Council members said they still supported a nuclear deal with Tehran, which Trump had disparaged in his obsession to undo actions taken by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
But putting the agreement back together again is not easy, as Iran has taken negative actions and some deadlines have expired. Still, to make a point of the Iran deal Europeans support, Macron invited Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the G7 meeting.
Zarif, himself, is under U.S. sanctions, as is the entire Iranian mission to the United Nations. It is expected some in his government will not approve of his visit to the G7. As Wendy Sherman, one of the main negotiators of the Iran deal, said, “there are hard-liners and hard hard-liners” in Iran and in the Trump administration.
Women’s Programs Slashed
On women, the Trump administration and evangelicals have been unrelenting. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which deals in maternal health care and family planning but does not conduct abortions, was a prime target for the last three years, cutting $32.5 million annually.
The reason given was specious: that the agency had supported China’s population control policies, such as coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. No evidence was given, and UNFPA has shied away from abortion. But the main reason seems to be family planning: information or contraceptives to poor women or the millions wanting relief from rape in conflict zones or the estimated millions eager to have access to contraceptives.
And then there is the global “gag rule” that bans official American aid to any global organization that provides abortions or even information about the procedure, a staple of Republican administrations. Journalist Barbara Crosette explains it in depth in PassBlue: