At UN, Trump attacks globalism, Iran
President also takes aim at Venezuela, China and socialism
UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump stood before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday and rejected globalism and liberal immigration policies while exhorting the world to act against Iran’s “bloodlust.” His speech before world leaders had to compete with news from Washington of a growing movement by Democrats to impeach him.
Trump took aim at China, Venezuela and what he called a “growing cottage industry” of radical activists intent on pushing for open borders that harm national security and sovereignty. In a later meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he fended off fresh questions from reporters about his attempts to press Ukraine’s president to investigate the family of political rival Joe Biden.
As he addressed the General Assembly, Trump lambasted the World Trade Organization for giving China preferential treatment that he said was undeserved. He slammed socialism for bringing ruin to Venezuela. But he reserved much of his ire for Iran, which he called “one of the greatest threats” to the planet.
“Not only is Iran the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, but Iran’s leaders are fueling the tragic wars in both Syria and Yemen,” Trump told world leaders. “All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust.”
The Trump administration’s hard-line Iran policy got a boost Monday from Britain, France and Germany, which blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities earlier this month and said the time had come to negotiate a new deal with Tehran to replace the landmark 2015 nuclear accord from which Trump withdrew last year.
U.S. officials said they hope the new European stance would galvanize opposition to Iran and boost the “maximum pressure” campaign that the administration has pursued by increasing sanctions on the Islamic Republic. There had been speculation, fueled by Trump himself, that he might meet in New York with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but officials said that prospect was increasingly unlikely, particularly after the joint statement from Britain, France and Germany.
Trump did, however, raise the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough, saying, “The United States has never believed in permanent enemies. We want partners, not adversaries.”
But mostly the president implored the world’s leaders to prioritize their own nations, with strong borders and one-onone trade deals, rejecting transnational organizations and alliances.
“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to strong, independent nations,” Trump told a murmuring crowd at the General Assembly. “Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders, causing them to ignore their own national interests. Those days are over.”
Trump’s speech was greeted with tepid applause from the world leaders. A sharp contrast to his fiery rally speeches, Trump on Tuesday adopted a more somber demeanor. He grasped the lectern throughout his address, his voice at times so soft it would have been hard to hear without microphones. For an extended stretch, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sat in the audience with his eyes closed, appearing asleep.
Though denouncing Iran’s aggression, Trump did not explicitly blame Tehran for recent strikes against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Trump urged Tehran to follow the example set by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, even though the autocrat continues to hold a tight grip on his nuclear weapons.
Trump, who has met with Kim for a pair of summits and a historic step into North Korea, said this week that another meeting “could happen soon.” He provided few details, and it wasn’t clear what officials were doing behind the scenes to set up a meeting to break the diplomatic impasse.
“While anyone can make war, only the most courageous can choose peace,” said Trump, praising Kim.
He also delivered a bellicose warning to Venezuela. He denounced the government of Nicolas Maduro and declared that he awaited the day “when Venezuela will be free and when liberty will prevail throughout this hemisphere.” He called socialism “the wrecker of nations” and “destroyer of societies.”
As always, the political realities at home were never far from Trump’s mind.
He underscored the need for a fair trade deal with China, threatening more tariffs even as the ongoing dispute has rattled markets and endangered the domestic economic success on which Trump has banked his reelection hopes. And linking sovereignty to strong borders, Trump touted a hawkish immigration worldview popular with his conservative political base while chastising other governments for not doing their part.
“One of our most critical challenges is illegal immigration,” Trump said. He decried “radical activists” who “encourage illegal migration,” declaring that their policies are “not just. Your policies are cruel and evil.”
But Trump made no mention of the centerpiece issue of this year’s General Assembly: climate change. On Monday, he made only a 15-minute cameo at a global climate change meeting and later mocked 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who had scolded the audience at the climate summit.
Trump tweeted: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
President Donald Trump addresses world leaders Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City.