On Iran, Trump Needs UN Help. He May Even Know it.

Maximum pressure isn't working. Tehran isn't backing down. Can the president woo a body that laughed at him last year?

As President Donald Trump travels to the United Nations this week, he must be hoping that the third time’s a charm.

On his first trip, in 2017, other leaders were afraid of engaging with him. A prominent television host complained to me at the time that prominent heads of state normally jockeyed to be on his show during the General Assembly meetings, but that year they all went to ground. They were terrified of either alienating the president or alienating their electorates by supporting the president. Their caution appeared to be validated by Trump’s address, in which he warned that “We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” in the event of aggression against U.S. allies.

During President Trump’s second trip, in 2018, delegates openly laughed at his boast to the General Assembly: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

Now, in 2019, President Trump cannot afford evasion or ridicule. He needs the United Nations on Iran, and he seems to know it.

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Jon B. Alterman
Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program