President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton brought a prop to the UN General Assembly to underscore the Trump administration’s primary theme: the US stands on its own.Bolton waved a copy of the UN Charter, a little booklet meant to symbolize the message that US officials will hammer home during the year’s largest gathering of world leaders: that global organizations and national sovereignty are incompatible. “Everybody got a copy?” he asked reporters Monday, before outlining his vision that “infringements on our sovereignty are … an infringement on the people themselves.”
Bolton and other officials were previewing a theme that Trump will strike Tuesday, when he is expected to use his second UN address to emphasize his administration’s intent to distance itself from international groups and pacts the US has previously embraced.
Even if Trump and his team of senior officials weren’t explicitly driving home that message, the growing distance between the US and its traditional allies, particularly in Europe, will be on clear display throughout the week-long event known as the Super Bowl of diplomacy.
It will be reflected in the diverging priorities world leaders emphasize, in the US criticism of the UN and withdrawal from international agreements, and in the message that some leaders will send of their continuing belief in the very concept US officials will push back on: the importance of international cooperation and institutions.