Here are the main events in Politics that occurred over the past week:
1. President Trump Gives First Speech Before The United Nations
On September 19, President Donald Trump gave his first speech before the UN General Assembly at the opening of the 72nd UN Session. In a major break from his campaign rhetoric, Trump’s speech took a more interventionist tone that puts American interests ahead of the wider goals and aims of the international community. Trump’s core message is that the US will continue to play a major role in world affairs but it will do so based on its own interests as opposed to the ideological interests of other members of the international community. In particular, Trump took aim at North Korea and Iran, two countries that he considers to be the main obstacles to total US domination of the international arena. Trump described North Korean President Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” and stated that if the isolated and sanctioned country did not give up its nuclear program, the US will have no other options other than destroying North Korea. Additionally, Trump again claimed that Iran is the leading sponsorer of global terrorism and that the Iranian nuclear agreement is “one of the worst and most one-sided” international agreements that the US has ever entered into. Trump also called for a renewed fight against Islamist terrorism and highlighted his well-known opposition to global trade agreements, arguing that they negatively impact American workers and only benefit countries in the developing world.
Overall, President Donald Trump’s first UN speech took a dark and defiant tone that threatened to isolate the US from its allies and also fits the Neoconservative vision of the US serving as the global police force when it serves their own selfish interests. Additionally, there were several notable moments of hypocracy in President Trump’s speech. For example, Trump said nothing about the mediocre human rights records of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt and stated that Saudi Arabia is on the forefront of fighting Islamist terrorism and is one of the most progressive countries in the entire Middle East in terms of human rights. In reality, Saudi Arabia arguably has one of the worst human rights records in the entire world, strongly supports violent radical groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, and, since 2015, has been directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Shi’a Muslims in Yemen due to its military operations within the country.
2. US Established First Permanent Military Base in Israel
On September 18, the US announced the opening of the first-ever joint Israeli-US military installation on Israeli soil. The facility is an air defense located in the Negev desert and will be home to 120 US Air Force personnel. Plans for the establishment of the facility began under former President Barack Obama and were extradited at the urging of President Donald Trump. According to Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch, the head of the IDF’s Air Defense Command, the establishment of the base is historic and “demonstrates the years-old alliance between the United States and the State of Israel.” One can clearly make the case that the establishment of a permanent US base within Israel would do little other than to inflame the already difficult situation within the Middle East and give Israel the incentive to intervene militarily in countries in the region such as Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. Additionally, the presence of a US military installation in Israel furthers the impression that the US directly encourages the heinous human rights abuses that Israel is guilty of committing against the Palestinian people since its establishment as a sovereign nation nearly 70 years ago.
3. Republican Efforts To Repeal “Obamacare” Takes Hit
The efforts by the Republican Party Congressional Leadership and President Donald Trump to repeal “Obamacare” and reform the healthcare system hit another stumbling block this week with the revelation of how the repeal would impact individual states. A study commissioned by Avalere and released on September 18 finds that the new legislation would reduce federal healthcare funding to states by $215 Billion through 2026 and by more than $4 Trillion by 2037. Most of these cuts would affect states that have already expanded Medicaid, and would thus negatively impact both middle and low-income individuals and families. The states that will see the largest cuts in funding under the new plan include Arizona, Alaska, Maine, Ohio, and West Virginia, all states that are represented by Republican senators who have reservations regarding the plan. On the other hand, states such as Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia would see increases in federal healthcare funding under the new plan. After 2026, nearly all states see cutbacks in federal funding, with California being impacted the most with an estimated loss of $800 Billion. The fact that the healthcare reform proposal unfairly targets certain states with cuts in funding makes it even less likely that the most recent proposal stands a chance of passing in its present form.