The colourful laughter at the UN - What message therein for Donald Trump?

BY: Lawrence Mantey
 Mr Donald Trump, the United States President, addressing the UN  General Assembly
Mr Donald Trump, the United States President, addressing the UN General Assembly

The United States President, Mr Donald Trump, will go in history as the most fascinating leader ever to have ruled the people of the United States.

His maverick character and the hawkish approach to his foreign policies notwithstanding, it seems many people around the world have some admiration for him after all.

If  September 18  had been the date of his birth, the thunderous laughter that greeted his speech at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly that  has just ended would have been a befitting birthday surprise for him.

The laughter that could be described as colourful and global, looking at the different colours of national flags of which delegates at the conference represent, can symbolise a simple message the world is directing at Mr Trump.

National Interest

Since he became American President, Donald Trump has adhered strictly to his realist principles without a waver.

He has never equivocated on his assumptions about the nature of global politics.

Issues on migration, trade and global cooperation and institutional building are areas where his views about current global situations are most apparent.

In front of a great number of heads of state, diplomats and delegates from international non-governmental organisations, Mr Trump did not mince words when he categorically rejected “globalism” and the institutions that underpinned it.

Having recommended “patriotism” as the way forward for America to go, a significant part of his speech which was meant for the global audience just focused on America and what he has achieved for that country so far.

An Illusion

Admittedly, there is no head of state who does not seek the interest of his country and the welfare of the people under his or her administration.

The anarchical structure of the world system even leads well-intentioned leaders to practise self help.

Ignoring one’s interest, squandering one’s resources in fits of altruism can be the fastest road to national disaster.

For a national leader, thinking with one’s heart is a serious offence because foreign policy is not a social work.

In this view Mr Trump may seem to be the strong leader America needs as the most powerful nation of the world.

However, in an era where national boundaries are becoming increasingly porous and policy problems are transcending political frontiers, thinking that the managerial capacity of a single self-seeking state can address troubles within its borders and beyond can be an illusion.

Worries of Globalisation

An era where isolationism and protectionism seem more feasible is far gone. States of the world are now finding themselves in a situation where they are unable to disentangle themselves from the many economic linkages that bind them together.

Modern technology has reduced geographical constraints on global interactions even further, allowing people to exchange goods and ideas with speed that would have been unimaginable to those who lived in the previous centuries.
Everyone on the planet is now more closely connected than ever before.

As the UN is working to build the institutional foundation for the increasing interconnectedness among the world societies, it seems the United States under Donald Trump is not comfortable and worries a lot about the distribution of relative gains emanating from global cooperation, and also the possibility that others will cheat on international agreements.

This apprehension is becoming manifest in recent times, and more revealing under Donald Trump’s administration as Asian firms expand in number and reach, thus giving globalisation a non-Western hue.

Threat to international cooperation

The anti-globalisation speech of Donald Trump at the UN General Assembly threatens the institutional foundation the UN wants to strengthen to support the global unity brought about by an expanding global market place where the distinction between what is domestic and what is foreign keeps becoming increasingly blurred.

The UN will now be facing a mounting challenge to its effort at fostering multilateral political cooperation among the world’s culturally diverse nations to keep pace with what has happened within the global economic arena.

As the ability of sovereign states to cope with global problems keep declining drastically, nationalist approach at solving global problems and even domestic ones are becoming less feasible.

Countries are now becoming aware of the common destiny of all and the need to work towards a common global agenda.


Every country and its citizens deserve peace, prosperity and popularity. There is nothing wrong if a state leader pursues that agenda for his country.

But as Mr Trump wishes America to go alone, he should remember that it is not only America alone that is willing to laugh in happiness and prosperity, the rest of the world likes to laugh too.

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