What will Trump do to the 128 countries now?
U.S. President Donald Trump telling Nikki Haley, his representative in the United Nations, to take note of countries that would approve the objection to his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was one of the most blatantly arrogant moves in modern diplomatic history.
It’s as if it was not a transparent voting and the names of the countries that voted were kept hidden. His patronizing stance got worse when he said countries receiving financial aid from the U.S. should not even dare stand against his decision.
Well, they did. Almost all of them did.
Shall we start with Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan? Or Iraq or Egypt?
Or shall we mention the United Kingdom, perhaps the only real strategic ally of the U.S. within the higher ranks of countries “to be punished” by Trump’s unilateralism? Or France, a Western member state in the U.N. Security Council as strong as the U.S.; or Germany, the U.S.’s major ally in the European Union; or Italy? What kind of a punishment will Trump impose on Russia, China, Japan and India? And what kind of a punishment will Trump impose on its NATO ally Turkey, which submitted the condemnation of the U.S. decision on Jerusalem to the U.N. General Assembly in the face of all the pressure it has been subjected to by the U.S. in the last couple of years?
Will Trump use his mighty military strength, spy satellites or economic sanctions to punish all those 128 countries?
“You will not be able to buy our political will with your dollars,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan had said, proving his stance was sturdier than Trump’s threats.
Has Trump not put the U.S. - the world’s biggest economic and military power - in a difficult position by making the overwhelming majority of the world defy its political power?
This is the first time the U.S. is experiencing such a political defeat in the international arena.
The Trump administration and Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel can pretend to ignore the result of the vote, knowing that it has no power over any other countries. Of course, the crushing majority of the world, including the best allies and partners of the U.S., knew that. But they wanted to send a message to the U.S. that the world is not a farm in which the president of the U.S. could do whatever he wants.
Trump is unlikely to rescind his decision, which he made mainly to strengthen his position in the Republican Party. It may be true that this vote will not change Netanyahu’s aggressive stance in Israel, assuming the U.S. continues to back the state. The vote will probably have no immediate impact on the Jerusalem issue.
But now Trump knows he is not the only one to solve the Jerusalem problem, which is one the world’s oldest political conflicts. Perhaps American diplomats could advise their president to read the latest Islamic Cooperation Organization declaration calling on nations to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine under occupation. The declaration stresses the city’s heritage for all three monotheist religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The vote, which ended with the crushing result of 128 to 9 (with 35 abstentions), was not only about Jerusalem. It was not only about Israel and Palestine’s equal rights to co-exist. It was more about Trump’s aggressive unilateralist policies, a warning of the limits to the U.S’s army and economy in international politics.
That unilateralism has suffered its first defeat in the Jerusalem vote.