Trump’s UN speech was bold, isolationist, and full of outright lies

Behold the singularity.
Behold the singularity.
Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Donald Trump said the US is turning its back on globalism, criticized OPEC and Iran, and praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and the growing nationalism in Poland in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

He also continued a familiar pattern, saying misleading and sometimes outright false things about the everything from North Korea to the International Criminal Court.

Trump began his address in New York today (Sept. 25) with a claim that is a key part of his domestic “Make America Great Again” rallies: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of the country,” he told the assembled world leaders.  The room chuckled in response, giving Trump pause, which started another round of laughter.

Trump quickly launched into the main message of the speech: The US is no longer going to be the world’s policeman, would limit participation in global agreements—and would encourage other countries to do the same.

“The US will not tell you how to live, or work or worship,” Trump said. “We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return,” he said. (Later he said, however, that that the US would withhold foreign aid from countries that don’t “respect us” or are not “our friends.”)

His administration “rejects the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism around the world,” Trump said. He condemned the UN Human Rights Commission, the International Criminal Court, and the UN Compact on Migration, and said the US wouldn’t participate in any of them.

However confrontational, his speech was a step back from last year’s, when Trump vowed to “totally destroy” Kim Jong Un. Today, he took aim at Iran instead, saying its government was responsible for “sowing chaos, death, and destruction,” in the Mideast, embezzling billions and sending “proxies to wage war.” The “horrible Iran nuclear deal” was a “windfall for Iran’s leaders,” Trump said, who used it to build “nuclear-capable missiles.” The US is working to discourage other nations from buying oil from Iran, he said.

The US has “become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth,” Trump said. (The country crossed that line during Barack Obama’s second term, in terms of overall energy, and is set to be the largest oil producer in coming years.)

In North Korea, Trump claimed, his approach “has yielded incredible change.” After the US engaged with North Korea, the “specter of conflict” has been replaced “with a bold and new push for peace,” he said, an optimism that isn’t shared by many North Korea experts.

“Thanks to the US military and our partnership, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria,” Trump said, refuting reports from both the US Defense Department and the UN in August, which noted the hundreds of fighters still in each country.

Trump repeated his rationale for US tariffs on China that most trade experts, including his own former economic advisor Gary Cohn, say makes no sense. “Our trade deficit ballooned to $800 billion a year,” Trump said, and “for this reason we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals.” Since Trump took office, the US’s trade deficit has increased.

Trump closed with a call for other countries to follow the US in rejecting global organizations, and embrace their own nationalism, as a new path to global peace: ”We must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.”