The Big Question as the U.N. Gathers: What to Make of Trump?

One of Mr. Trump’s primary tasks will be to define how his America First approach — which has led him to pull out of international agreements on free trade and climate change — fits into the world-first mission of the United Nations.

His challenge is “to describe the Trump Doctrine on U.S. global leadership and engagement,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. “The perception in many parts of the world, including the U.N., is that President Trump is unilateralist and isolationist. Trump has the opportunity to present and describe his vision and strategy. The world will be all ears.”

Mr. Trump arrives in New York at a time of crackling tension over North Korea’s provocative actions and deep uncertainty about what he will do with President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. While foreign leaders once feared that an erratic American presidency was taking shape, they have been reassured, to some extent, that Mr. Trump is settling into a somewhat more conventional foreign policy than many had anticipated, analysts said.

The president has not launched an all-out trade war with China, ripped up the Iran deal or the North American Free Trade Agreement, or moved the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, at least not yet. He has belatedly reaffirmed support for NATO and agreed to send more troops to Afghanistan.

“But America’s friends still see dysfunctionality at the heart of the Trump administration, as key advisers come and go through the revolving door,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to Washington. “They remain disheartened by Trump’s announcements on climate change and trade policy.” And “they fear that the fighting talk of this impulsive president could make things worse rather than better on the Korean Peninsula.”

Previewing the week, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, said Mr. Trump would stress “sovereignty…

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