UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump delivered a somber rebuke to globalism on Tuesday, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that focused on the president’s “America First” view of foreign relations.
“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots,” Trump said in a 36-minute address to the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN headquarters in midtown Manhattan.
Trump, addressing the body for the third time in his presidency, called for an international response to Iran’s recent provocations in the Middle East, defended the ongoing trade war with China, and touted the U.S. military’s “might” while also saying the United States "has never believed in permanent enemies," rather it wants "partners, not adversaries.”
The president's speech repeated themes commonly found in his campaign rally speeches — he encouraged world leaders to embrace nationalism and to defend their borders from "the challenges of uncontrolled migration."
"Like my beloved country, each nation represented in this hall, has a cherished history, culture and heritage, that is worth defending and celebrating, and which gives us our singular potential and strength,” Trump said. “The free world must embrace its national foundations. It must not attempt to erase them or replace them.”
Trump told the world leaders on hand, that the United States “does not seek conflict with any other nation. We desire peace, cooperation, and mutual gain with all,” but he also took aim at Iran. Amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, he called the nation “one of the greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations.”
Trump defended his administration’s latest round of financial sanctions against Iran in the wake of strikes against Saudi oil fields that the United States has blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied any involvement in the strikes and has threatened “all-out war” if the United States leads a military response to the strikes.
“All nations have a duty to act,” Trump said. “No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s blood lust. As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened."
Trump defended his administration’s hard-line immigration policies that have imposed more barriers for migrants seeking asylum in the United States, saying each nation “has the absolute right to protect your borders."
“When you undermine border security, you are undermining human rights and dignity,” said Trump who has faced criticism from immigrant advocacy groups for his administration's initial family separation policy that separated minors detained at the border from their parents and guardians, and for squalid conditions at U.S. immigration detention centers.
Trump, defended imposing tariffs on Chinese goods amid an ongoing trade war, accusing China of benefiting from preferential treatment by the World Trade Organization, and of engaging in unfair practices such as currency manipulation and theft of intellectual property.
“Our goal is simple. We want balanced trade that is fair and reciprocal,” Trump said.
The president stuck to reading his prepared remarks from a TelePrompTer, in a straight tone that was a departure from his fiery first two speeches before the General Assembly.
Trump’s first UN speech in 2017 was met with gasps after he called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.” His second address last year was met with laughter when he boasted that in his first two years in office, his administration “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
Trump’s speech came as he continued to face questions from U.S. lawmakers about his communications with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky this summer, amid reports that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
Moments before delivering his speech, Trump spoke with reporters and continued to defend his conversation with Zelensky saying “there was no pressure put on [him] whatsoever.”
Trump’s delegation to the meeting included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and newly confirmed Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Knight Craft.
First lady Melania Trump and three of the president’s children — Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Tiffany Trump — also attended the speech.