President Trump said in his inauguration speech that the slogan “America First” would govern his administration and approach to foreign policy. But UN Secretary-General António Guterres believes that the President’s pledge is “detrimental to American interests.”
The whole idea of “America first” is predicated on a belief that “the interests of the American people are best protected by the US in itself, and that international organizations do not contribute much to it,” Guterres told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.
But, the Secretary-General emphasized, this simply “wasn’t true.”
“The US is too big and too relevant to be able to think it alone. The way things happen in the world has a very important impact in the way things happen in the United States,” he said.
As a result, it’s important for the United States to operate with a global mindset, Guterres insisted. This in spite of the fact that, in his first year of office, President Trump has pulled out of the Paris Accords, and has announced that he will be withdrawing US membership of UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization.
“It’s very important for the United States that the US engages – engages in climate action, engages in migration but also engages in addressing crises like the crisis in Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan or South Sudan or the DRC,” Guterres said.
“The role of the US can be extremely important to allow for solutions to be found, to have leverage, to have pressure on the actors to these conflicts in order to be able to make them understand that it’s necessary to stop those conflicts,” he added.
What’s more, he argued, if “the US doesn’t occupy the space, someone else will.”
Not only would a negative view of international institutions and global agreements be “detrimental to American interest,” Guterres emphasized, it could also result in “a lack of capacity to have a stabilizing influence in the world.”
“In the multiplicity of crises we have where conflicts are so much interlinked and linked to problems of global terrorism, I think that to disengage in world affairs also impacts negatively on the security of any people, including the American people,” he said.