UN speech lets White House focus on Iran, not Ukraine

UN speech lets White House focus on Iran, not Ukraine

John Fritze

USA TODAY

Published 11:42 AM EDT Sep 24, 2019

NEW YORK – In a speech heavily focused on domestic policies including immigration and social media, President Donald Trump used his third address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to tout sovereignty and economic growth.

The president implored the world to help the U.S. confront Iran, defended his trade war with China and slammed social media companies.  

China trade

Trump accused China of “gaming” the global trade system in a speech Tuesday at the United Nations as he defended tariffs that his critics say have put the U.S. economy at risk of a recession.

“We want balanced trade this is both fair and reciprocal,” Trump said. He suggested the World Trade Organization was giving preferential treatment to China during an extended defense of his trade war with Beijing.

He also said that while he wants a trade deal with China, he would “not accept a bad deal for the American people.”

Trump seeks help on Iran

Trump said the world must stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon and he continued to criticize the 2015 nuclear deal he withdrew from last year.

“The regime’s record of death and destruction is well known to us all,” Trump said.

Trump noted that he had imposed sanctions after the recent attack on Saudi Arabia.

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“All nations have a duty to act,” Trump said. “No responsible nation should satisfy Iran’s blood lust.”  

Trump also focused heavily on Iran during the speech, a subject that took on added importance after the Sept. 14 attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities that Washington has blamed on Tehran. 

Trump also hit the theme of sovereignty during his address, renewing attention on an issue he has embraced in prior addresses.    

“If you want freedom, take pride in your country,” Trump told the audience of world leaders. “The future does not belong to globalists.” 

On defense over Ukraine

Trump’s third address to the UN General Assembly comes as the White House is in defense mode over the growing scandal involving Ukraine. Trump has denied withholding aid to Ukraine as leverage to force leaders in Kiev to open an investigation into Joe Biden, the former vice president Democratic presidential candidate.

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Trump was flanked by like-minded leaders on the podium. He was preceded by President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been described as Brazil’s “mini-Trump.” He was followed by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who Trump has praised despite protests over Sisi’s desire to limit dissent.

Trump touts progress on North Korea

Trump said the United States wants “partners not adversaries.”

The president touted his talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which have led to three one-on-one meetings. Critics have noted that North Korea continues to test missiles despite the more open dialogue.

“America knows that while anyone can make war, only the most courageous can make peace,” Trump said.

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Trump slams immigration critics  

Trump offered an extended defense of his immigration policies and blasted critics.

“Today, I have a message for those open-border activists,” Trump said, noting that perilous journey that many migrants face attempting to enter the U.S. “Your policies are not just. Your policies are cruel and evil.”

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Trump said that every nation has a “absolute right” to protects its borders “and so of course does our country.”

Hits social media

Trump used a portion of his remarks to the UN to criticize social media companies.

The president, a frequent tweeter, largely echoed the skepticism he has directed at Twitter and Facebook before. But the venue was interesting: Social media has emerged globally as a way for citizens in repressive nations to organize dissent.

Trump has also complained, without evidence, that those companies are also attempting to silence conservative voices.

“A small number of social media platforms are acquiring immense power over what we can say,” Trump said.

“The permanent political class is openly disdainful…of the will of the people,” he said.

“A faceless bureaucracy operates in secret and weakens democratic rule.”

LGBTQ people and women

Trump called on countries to support the economic empowerment of women, touting his Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiatives. 

“Nations that empower women are wealthier, safer and much more politically stable,” Trump said.

He also said he has championed the rights of LGBTQ individuals, and is working with nations that “punish, jail or execute individuals based on sexual orientation.” 

“My administration is working with other nations to stop criminalizing of homosexuality and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people,” he said.


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