National Review, September 19, 2017

Trump’s Successful U.N. Speech

by Elliott Abrams

It had both striking rhetoric and a sound argument. In his speech to the United Nations, President Trump very successfully met the political and intellectual challenge he faced. He reminded the delegates that the United Nations was never meant to be a gigantic bureaucracy that would steadily become a world government. Rather, he said, it is an association of sovereign states whose strength depends “on the independent strength of its members.” Its success, he argued, depends on their success at governing well as “strong, sovereign, and independent nations.”

Trump cleverly turned patriotism — love of one’s own country, and what he called the necessary basis for sacrifice and “all that is best in the human spirit” — into the basis for international cooperation to solve problems that nations must face together. “The true question,” he said, is “are we still patriots?” If we are, we can work together for “a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.” This was a useful, principled, and accurate reminder that the nation-state (a term he used) remains the key to world politics, and that successful nation-states will be the key to addressing the world’s challenges.

The speech added to this line of thinking several Trumpian touches that must be applauded — and others that served at least to wake up his audience. He said, for example, that “the problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” That has to count as one of the nicest lines ever delivered in that General Assembly chamber. He noted that “major portions of the world are in conflict, and some in fact are going to hell.” One assumes he added the latter phrase to the written text — and it was pure Trump. He carefully distinguished between the vicious and corrupt regime in Iran, “whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” and “the good people of Iran,” adding that “Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most” after only “the vast military power of the United States.” On North Korea, he delivered the line that may be the most quoted: He said of Kim Jong-un that “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission” and told the delegates that if Kim attacks the United States, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

What did Trump not talk about? The Israeli–Palestinian conflict. At times that problem was the central item in President Obama’s speeches to the U.N., so its absence in Trump’s first address to the General Assembly was very striking. He wants to get a deal done, as he reiterated when meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but he realizes that the conflict is not central to world politics or even to stability and peace in the Middle East. So it had no place in this text.

Trump’s criticism of the United Nations was clear, hitting everything from the hypocrisy of allowing tyrannical regimes to serve as members of the Human Rights Council to its bloated bureaucracy, but every criticism was combined with a call for improvement and a pledge of cooperation. He held out the picture of a better U.N. able to confront and solve many of the world’s problems. 

Trump’s mantra in this speech was the goal of “security, prosperity, and peace,” which “strong, sovereign nations” could attain. His handling of freedom was less firm. The speech did contain that word, but terms like “liberty” and, more significantly, “human rights” were absent. Mostly he discussed the absence of freedom when he criticized rotten dictatorships, as in “the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom” and the American goal to help the people of Venezuela “regain their freedom.” Yet he did note the grand alliances that had “tilted the world toward freedom since World War II,” and in his peroration he said “we will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice . . . ”

Fair judges will call this speech a real success. Trump rose to the occasion and offered a speech that had both striking rhetoric and a sound argument that the success of individual states, each looking out for its own interests, is the basic building block of a successful U.N. and international system. This was a rare speech in that chamber, which has been filled with decades of lies, hypocrisy, and globaloney. Trump paid the organization and the delegates the courtesy of telling them squarely how his administration sees the world.


14ymedio, September 20, 2017 

A Hurricane Called Communism

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami,  — In the middle of the hurricane I received a mysterious photo of Fidel Castro. At the top it said: “Fidel resurrected.” Below the portrait the mystery was clarified: “His name is Irma.” The Commander was reincarnated as a ferocious hurricane.

The joke has a serious basis Juan Manuel Cao, one of America TeVe’s leading journalists, explained it to me. Communism and hurricanes have many things in common. They leave society that suffers them without electricity, without food, without medicines, without clothes, without gasoline. The drinking water becomes an elusive trickle that fades with skill of Houdini. They are magicians. Everything disappears. Socialism is like this.

But both catastrophes differ in one key detail: hurricanes last only a few days and people look forward to the end of the water and the wind. Communism, on the other hand, lasts an eternity and, little by little, hopes of seeing the end vanish. We Cubans have been suffering for 58 years. Venezuelans, although they have not yet reached the sea of appiness, as announced by Hugo Chávez, began the journey almost 20 years ago. They are already close to the goal. God take them confessed.

The Cuban Human Rights Foundation, chaired by Tony Costa, in a bulletin written by the historian Juan Antonio Blanco, adds a forceful denunciation in response to statements by dictator Raul Castro. The general explained that almost all the resources available to Cuba in the last quarter of 2017 will be used to rebuild the hotel infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

The companies, almost all foreign, co-directed by Cuban generals, will have priority. If a street or a building has to be fixed, a power line or telephone has to be fixed, it will not be the Cubans, but the foreigners. It has always been like this. It is the government, without consulting the citizens, who will decide how it will spend the resources generated by the work of Cubans.

When these catastrophes occur, the cruel absurdity of the systems in which the government, owner of all property, of all resources, and of all decision-making mechanisms, chooses the certain bad luck of its subjects.

In societies in which private property prevails, citizens protect their assets through insurance, and if they do not have it, they acquire loans to repair their homes or estates. They do not expect the State to solve their most urgent needs because they know, as Ronald Reagan used to say, that there is no more dangerous creature than the one who tells us: “I am a representative of the government and I have come to solve your problems.”

In Cuba there are thousands of victims of hurricanes that happened six, seven or ten years ago, and who continue to live in temporary shelters that are falling apart. Often the aid that comes from abroad is then sold in dollars in special stores.

I remember a shocking revelation made me by Jaime Ortega, very upset, who was then bishop and soon cardinal, in the nineties, at my house in Madrid: when Germany, already reunited, tried to give thousands of tons of powdered milk, to be distributed by the Catholic charity Caritas, and their diplomats in Havana learned that the government sold these coveted gifts, the indignant representative of the Cuban government, a deputy foreign trade minister named Raul Taladrid, on the instructions of Fidel Castro, uttered a tremendous sentence that should pass to the universal history of infamy: “Cuban children will drink water with ashes before milk distributed by the Church.”

Now it was Irma’s turn. Little by little the country will erode sharply, from hurricane to hurricane, from storm to storm, until it becomes an incomprehensible ruin, as long as the current system continues. I am not surprised by the bitter joke. Fidel reincarnated in “Irma.” Tomorrow it will be as “Manuel” or “Carmen.” Until Cuba is a fuzzy memory, or until this chastened society can get rid of the heavy chain and take the long road to national reconstruction away from the socialist utopia.