Autumn is a beautiful time of the year: as the nature changes its colours and makeup, the most interesting books are published and films are screened. As we are sipping pumpkin spice latte, the social, political and awards seasons are getting in full swing. September is also the month when the United Nations (U.N.) has its General Assembly, the most high profile event in the diplomatic calendar.
President Trump today kicked off his maiden appearance at the U.N. with a call to overhaul the international organisation.
“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement,” Trump said at an event dedicated to U.N. reform. Trump’s comments come as he prepares to deliver his first remarks before the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York on Tuesday.
The president has been deeply critical of the 72-year-old organisation and dozens of world leaders at the summit are anxious to hear how he plans to address those concerns, as well as hotspots like North Korea. The White House believes the U.S. pays too much for what it gets in return and that peacekeeping missions should be examined for excessive spending. Administration officials have described the U.N. as a bloated bureaucracy and have expressed anger by what they view as insufficient support for key allies, like Israel.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that she is happy with the direction the U.N. has taken in recent weeks, noting that “Israel bashing” has declined and that the U.N. has passed new sanctions on North Korea. “We said we needed to get value for our dollar, and what we’re finding is that the international community is right there with us in support of reform,” she added. Well, bearing in mind North Korea’s recent ballistic performances, the international community is all about basic survival. Ask anyone from Japan or South Korea.
The U.N. recently passed two rounds of sanctions against North Korea, and the Trump administration will be seeking to galvanise the isolated country’s regional neighbours, including Russia and China, against it.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that despite Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric, the U.S. is committed to a diplomatic solution. “I’m waiting for the regime of North Korea to give us some indication that they’re prepared to have constructive, productive talks,” Tillerson said Sunday.
Haley, however, has spoken more boldly about the potential for U.S. military action. “We wanted to be responsible and go through all diplomatic means to get their attention first,” she said Sunday on “State of the Union.” “If that doesn’t work, [Defense Secretary James] Mattis will take care of it.” Oh dear!
Politics took the spotlight during Sunday night’s telecast of the Emmy Awards, the first since President Trump was elected. The former television star and current US President was a huge part of the show, from host Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue to the end, when “The Handmaid’s Tale,” about a dystopian future in which a tyrannical government has taken over the United States, was awarded best drama.
The night featured actor Alec Baldwin winning an Emmy Award for his portrayal of the president on Saturday Night Live.
“At long last Mr. President, here is your Emmy,” Baldwin said after winning the award.
Baldwin’s comments were a reference to Trump’s desire for an Emmy. “The Apprentice,” his long-running show on NBC, was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program twice, but lost both times. Colbert jokingly blamed the academy for Trump’s election, suggesting that if the future president had won an award he might never have left television. “Why didn’t you give him an Emmy? If he had won an Emmy, I bet he wouldn’t have run for president. In a way, this is all your fault,” he said.
Trump has in the past tweeted about the Emmys, calling them “horrendous” and saying they have “no credibility.” Obviously, he’d say that.
The decades-old “SNL” had a big year by ripping Trump week after week. In addition to Baldwin, Kate McKinnon won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, in part for her “SNL” portrayals of Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, while Melissa McCarthy won last week for her guest performance as Sean Spicer. Former White House press secretary also made an appearance, just to mock himself for his comments in January declaring President Trump’s inauguration was the most watched in history.
“This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period, both in-person and around the world,” a smiling Spicer said. Quite a few people criticised Spicer’s appearance on the grounds that he should not be turning into a celebrity. In a separate interview last week, Spicer said that he had no plans to write memoirs and that he did regret (quite rightly so) some of the suits he had worn during press briefings. Celebrity or not, not working in the White House looks good on Spicer.