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UN Chief Urges 'Combination of Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism' After Trump Speech

President Trump listens as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a working lunch at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today defended solidarity as President Trump emphasized sovereignty at the United Nations General Assembly, saying at a luncheon with Trump that a “combination of patriotism and cosmopolitanism” as seen within New York City is the best course of action as Trump advocates nationalism.

“President Trump, you are a proud American. I am, of course, beneath the cover of secretary-general of the United Nations, a proud Portuguese – proud of my country and proud of its people. And each one of you, distinguished heads of state and government, you are proud of your countries, of your peoples, of your culture, of your contribution to world civilization,” Guterres said, comparing the heads of state to the audience at Hamilton in their feelings of patriotism.

“But we are also, all of us, citizens of the world, and we are also united in a cosmopolitan way by a common cause: the well-being of humanity,” the secretary-general added.

Trump said in his luncheon toast that “the United Nations has this incredible potential to bring people together.”

“I hope that eventually some of the other countries that we have conflict with, if not warlike conflict, trade conflict, other types of conflict, a lot of those problems will disappear, I think, by next year,” he said.

Trump and Guterres had a private one-on-one meeting today, at which the White House said they “discussed their common interest in resolving some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including those related to proliferation, terrorism, and other threats to international peace and security.”

In recent interview with The Atlantic, Guterres opined that “the soft power of the United States … is being reduced at the present moment.”

“The United States is today involved in a number of conflicts of different natures—in relation to trade, in relation to other situations—and indeed that means that the … attraction of American society that was a dominant factor in international relations just a few decades ago is today less clear,” he added.

Today, in his speech to the General Assembly, the UN chief said the world is “suffering from a bad case of ‘trust deficit disorder.'”

“Today, world order is increasingly chaotic. Power relations are less clear. Universal values are being eroded. Democratic principles are under siege, and the rule of law is being undermined. Impunity is on the rise, as leaders and States push the boundaries, both at home and in the international arena,” Guterres said. “We face a set of paradoxes. The world is more connected, yet societies are becoming more fragmented. Challenges are growing outward, while many people are turning inward. Multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most. It is true that we are moving in the direction of a multipolar world.”

“But multipolarity will not, in itself, guarantee peace or solve global problems. A century ago, Europe was multipolar. A balance of power was deemed sufficient to keep rivals in check. It was not. Without strong multilateral frameworks for European‑wide cooperation and problem‑solving, the result was a grievous world war. Today, with shifts in the balance of power, the risk of confrontation may increase.”

Guterres said the world needs “a rules‑based order” with the UN at the center, “delivering peace, defending human rights and driving economic and social progress for women and men everywhere.”

“In the face of massive, existential threats to people and planet — but equally at a time of compelling opportunities for shared prosperity — there is no way forward but collective, common‑sense action for the common good,” he said. “This is how we can rebuild trust.”