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The Logic and Implications of Two Speeches

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Publish Date : 2018 Oct 08 9:35
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The Logic and Implications of Two Speeches
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The presidents of Iran and the United States delivered speeches at the annual UN General Assembly on September 25. The UN General Assembly is held every year in late September, during which world leaders reiterate their countries' policies and positions on various international issues. The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, the intensification of confrontation and rhetoric between Iran and the United States in recent months, and US President Donald Trump's offer of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had put Rouhani's trip to New York and the speeches of both presidents at the UN General Assembly in the spotlight.
Mahmoud Yazdanfam

The presidents of Iran and the United States delivered speeches at the annual UN General Assembly on September 25. The UN General Assembly is held every year in late September, during which world leaders reiterate their countries' policies and positions on various international issues. The US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, the intensification of confrontation and rhetoric between Iran and the United States in recent months, and US President Donald Trump's offer of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had put Rouhani's trip to New York and the speeches of both presidents at the UN General Assembly in the spotlight. They both talked about various issues but devoted a significant part of their speeches to the policies and positions of each other's countries. Both of them sought to explain their governments' stances to the participating delegations, defend their countries' actions, express their views on resolving global issues, and invite other nations to cooperate with them. However, the basis and logic of the approach adopted by the two presidents to advance their national objectives and interests were different.
The logic of unilateralism
Trump's address was based on unilateralism, nationalist protectionism, and opposition to multilateralism and globalization. While rejecting the ideology of globalism, he preached the doctrine of patriotism and defended his "America First" worldview. He said that other governments should also endeavor to safeguard their national interests. He praised the achievements of his administration over the past two years in an exaggerated way, which was mocked by the audience. He boasted about the United States and its economy, power, low unemployment, reforms and military budget. His speech was filled with comparative and superlative adjectives and extreme comparisons based on his own opinion and assessment. In his view, things were in the worst condition in the past but are now in the best condition. Trump believes that the US is at the heart of the international system and that he is the one to say which country's policy is right or wrong because he is the head of the United States. He maintains that he has had the best performance among all presidents, not only in the US but all over the world so international organizations and other countries should be at the service of the US administration and help advance its policies. He had to sit at a meeting of the UN Security Council, while others were not interested in lending their ears to him. He defended his stance on the nuclear deal in total isolation, asked others to support him, and threatened that they will have to pay a heavy price if they refuse to do so.
Trump's logic is based on US military and economic power. He is standing against the entire world and is not ready to fulfill his legal and moral obligations or at least wants to give the impression that he does not care about such laws, regulations, and commitments. Showing disregard for all accepted international regulations and principles, Trump is not only threatening Iran but is also threatening other governments into supporting him.
This approach can have grave consequences for Iran in the short term and for the international community in the long run. Trump's brazen high-handedness and his contempt for all the regulations and principles of the international community will exacerbate the crisis in Iran's international relations and its economy so the country will suffer greatly. However, in the long term, this approach will negatively affect the international community and the United States as well. Although the international system is considered an anarchist community and power has an important role in advancing the countries' policies, objectives, and interests, considerable principles and regulations have been introduced over the past centuries, particularly after the Second World War, which govern the behavior of states and make it predictable and, in practice, logical.
Due to his unilateralism and extreme patriotism, Trump has turned a blind eye to international values, regulations, and norms and has not only not helped the international community progress but also has caused it to regress. The continuation of this trend will cause other countries to put up resistance to the United States, signs of which have begun to emerge. The United States' blatant use of the tool of sanctions and the power of the dollar and his harsh attacks on organizations that advocate multilateralism, including the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, will diminish its power in the international community and harm the country's foundations of power in the long run.
The logic of multilateralism
Unlike Trump, Iran's president was pursuing a multilateral approach. He emphasized the logic behind the formation of the international community and the power of words instead of relying a lot on economic and military power, disregarding all regulations and norms to accomplish his government's objectives, and threatening other members of the international community.  His goal was to gain the support of the international community and to highlight the Trump administration's wrong and destructive policy toward Iran and the world. His target audience, unlike Trump's, was the international community rather than those inside the country, and he tried to win the cooperation of other states in order to help advance national objectives and interests and resolve national issues in the international arena. He showed how committed he is to international regulations, principles, and obligations, particularly in regard to the nuclear accord. The Iranian delegation made efforts to present Iran as a responsible and accountable country despite all US claims and demonstrate that it respects its commitments, believes in dialogue and diplomacy as two of the most important mechanisms to resolve disagreements in the global arena, and embraces them if the other side is committed to its requirements.
It seems Iran's representatives were very successful in drawing attention to Trump's wrong policy on the nuclear deal and his insincere sit-down offer. Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement helped it show to the international community that it has a responsible government and, unlike the US, has met its obligations and it is the US that has ignored and violated international resolutions. The meeting held by the foreign ministers of the remaining parties to the nuclear deal on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and the proposal to set up new mechanisms for financial and banking transactions between the European Union and Iran—which drew the ire of and a harsh and unprecedented reaction from top US officials—indicate Iran's success on the JCPOA issue. The fact that leaders of major powers and permanent members of the Security Council supported Iran's actions in regard to the nuclear pact and opposed the views expressed by Trump at the council's meeting is another proof of Iran's success. Wise remarks, a multilateral approach, commitment to obligations, and avoiding confrontation led to the isolation of the United States at the meeting of the Security Council, during which its permanent members voiced support for Iran's stance on the nuclear deal and opposed the US policy. Therefore, the Security Council meeting that had been convened to spotlight Iran's alleged violations of the council's resolutions practically turned into a session in which the US flouting of obligations and rules was pointed out and it was the Trump administration who was accused of violating resolutions and ignoring international agreements.
Conclusion
Iran has been relatively successful in making its point at the United Nations and on the global stage. European governments and regional Arab countries have joined the Trump administration in criticizing Iran's missile and regional activities and have sided with the US on these issues instead of supporting Iran's approach. They do not believe that Iran is pursuing responsible policies in the region and have called for curbing the country's missile activities and its support for certain regional armed groups as well as the release of Western prisoners being held in Iran during their bilateral meetings, interviews, and speeches. The sharp fall in the Iranian rial against the dollar shows that Trump's threats have a greater impact on markets than the commitments of other major powers, and, despite the tangible effect of the approach adopted by the Iranian delegation on diluting US actions, it has not increased optimism about Iran's economic prospects. Iran's success on the nuclear deal issue proves that its approach is right in this regard. The country's sensitive situation, Europe's limited power and its inability to stand against the US, and political and economic conditions inside Iran requires that it confidently embark on a different path before things begin to spiral out of the government's control and the political system faces an uncontrollable crisis. It should isolate and frustrate extremist groups in the Trump administration and the region through expanding the scope of its multilateral approach and belief in the importance of peaceful mechanisms in resolving disputes to cover other issues and begin to attract greater support from members of the international community.
“ The Logic and Implications of Two Speeches ”