By Anne Beyefsky

As Trump mounts the U.N. General Assembly stage this week for the first time, one measuring stick cuts to the chase:  will ‘make America great again’ shrivel into a futile search for applause lines?

The unvarnished truth is that the General Assembly is a hostile audience for an American president. Less than half of the 193 U.N. member states are fully-free democracies. And with precious few exceptions, they share a common goal. Tying the American giant down in order to raise themselves up.

The claps from this crowd are reserved for obsequious, apologetic Americans who pledge to keep the dollars flowing. In short, President Obama.  In his first U.N. speech, Mr. Apology uttered: “America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others.”  Days after the murder of Ambassador Stevens in Libya in 2012, he spent four paragraphs apologizing for the video.

Any mention of “radical Islamic terror” is a gasp-worthy no-no.  On Fridays, in the General Assembly Hall building, there is a call to Muslim prayers. The prayer rugs are stored there, while the public tours shuffle by. No other religion has appropriated the U.N. building as a place of worship. And yet one-quarter of the renovations and daily upkeep of these facilities come from separation-of-church-and-state American taxpayers.

Just down the hall from where President Trump will speak, the U.N. houses a permanent public display featuring a “plight of Palestine” exhibit deliberately placed next to the Holocaust exhibit. The message that Israelis are modern-day Nazis is a UN-staple.

The institution, after all, is home base to global anti-Semitism.  Last year 70 percent of all General Assembly resolutions criticizing a U.N. member state for violating human rights were directed at Israel alone. The tenth – and most recent – emergency special session of the General Assembly is about Israel’s threat to humanity. Hundreds of thousands of dead in Syria (and Rwanda and Sudan), have never been able to command similar General Assembly attention. 

Faced with this morass, standard operating procedure for American presidents has been to wring their hands and still write blank checks. Once upon a time, President Trump promised to chart a different course. U.N. spenders who keep shifty books, U.N. peacekeepers who rape their wards, U.N. bosses who ruin whistleblowers, and U.N. human rights experts who practice anti-Semitism – seemed like worthy swamp-draining targets. 

But promises of major cuts to U.S. spending on the U.N. until there is real accountability have failed to materialize.  On the contrary, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is leading both President Trump and Vice President Pence in precisely the opposite direction, toward the siren call of U.N. “reform.”  The chorus line of this ditty is “pay now, reform later.”

Moreover, on Monday President Trump will be handing the reins of U.N. reform to none other than the UN itself. At Haley’s prompting, a “Political Declaration for U.N. Reform” will be adopted with great fanfare. It begins: “First, we declare our confidence in the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives and encourage him to lead organizational reform.”

Does that sound like a serious business model?  What happened to the leadership of the U.N.’s number one banker, the USA? 

An obvious alternative has been sitting on President Trump’s desk since January 20, 2017:  a freeze on further U.S. U.N. handouts for all but humanitarian crises, pending an in-depth, arms-length analysis of the U.S.-U.N. relationship from one unapologetic standpoint.  What will really make America great again?

Instead, Vice President Pence will host a second hush-hush U.N. “reform” meeting this week on the U.N. Human Rights Council.  Maybe nobody told him that the U.N. human rights rule book gives the power to change the rules to the human rights scoundrels themselves. What has leaked out about the Haley/Pence initiative are pleas for “transparency.”  But the problem is not that the U.N. human rights system is opaque.  It is that we don’t like what we see.

The “Human Rights” Council has launched a full-fledged boycott, divest and sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel. It has sponsored the creation of a U.N. blacklist of American companies doing business with Israel, with an anticipated 2017 publication date – using American dollars. This anti-Semitic and anti-American Council doesn’t need reform. It needs to be discredited and cut-off.

Like those who came before him, President Trump could take the U.N. microphone and whine about “bias” against Israel.  He could offer up Israel to the hungry hordes by prioritizing “peace” without a Palestinian peace partner.  He could dance around the connection between Islamic radicals and terrorism. He could tout the make-believe benefits to America of a fantasy U.N., and then fall on the sword of U.N. “reform.”

Or he could aim for the applause of the American people nowhere near the General Assembly Hall.  The folks who understand that the fancy diplomats, know-it-all bureaucrats and self-righteous grand poohbahs, don’t deserve our respect or support.