For 40 minutes on Tuesday, September 19, President Trump addressed the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Trump communicated to the world the issues facing the United States, starting with the recent hurricanes and showing our gratitude to all world leaders who assisted during that time of pain and recovery. Trump’s speech to the U.N. may well have been the best speech since he took office, regardless of one’s personal opinions of the president.
Trump, striking a positive tone, touted a stock market at an “all-time high,” unemployment “at its lowest level in sixteen years,” and $700 billion on military spending. Trump went on to support what he called “those three beautiful pillars,” referring to the U.N.’s vision for countries to “cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.” Trump expects members of the U.N. to promote the sovereignty of nations and advocated for his ‘America First’ philosophy when he followed with “As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.”
After his sovereignty spiel, Trump went on the offensive, telling the U.N. “We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea,” though not mentioning Russia or China by name. With North Korea’s delegate seated in the front row, he shifted to North Korea, which he said is a “depraved regime… responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.” Although he spoke against Russia and China earlier, Trump managed to pit them against North Korea by thanking “China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions.”
Trump’s criticisms continued after North Korea, condemning the Iranian government “that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations.” Trump claimed that Iranian wealth goes “to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors,” which pleased Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Once again, the president reiterated that the Iranian Nuclear Deal was one of the worst deals ever made. On a positive note, despite Iran’s “support for terror,” Trump “announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan,” and that “we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS.”
Trump criticized “the actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad,” stating how “the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person.” While calling out the Assad regime, Trump advocated for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict that respected the “will of the Syrian people” and thanked Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey for providing haven for Syrian refugees. Trump defended U.S. policy on Syrian refugees, highlighting that the U.S. spends billions helping refugees, but that hosting refugees closer to the conflict is more cost effective than relocating them to the U.S.
Not forgetting Africa, Trump reminded the U.N. that “The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.” Then, he took aim at the U.N. Human Rights Council and questioned why countries with “egregious human rights records” have seats. Furthering his point, Trump noted that Americans “pay far more than anybody realizes,” equating to 22 percent of the U.N.’s budget.
In his last few minutes, Trump went after the terrible conditions in Cuba and how the “socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of” Venezuela. In response, Venezuela mobilized its troops for war in a futile show of strength, an expected gesture from Maduro.
Trump began by telling the U.N. that “We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.” The call for action was given to the whole world, but ultimately, Trump believes “The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.” He used his speech as a “calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.”
Michael is a Senior studying political science. He is an Assistant Editor at The Arch Conservative.