US President Donald Trump speaks during 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. Photo: AFP/Timothy Clark
US President Donald Trump speaks during 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. Photo: AFP/Timothy Clark

Since US President Donald Trump’s first address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, the champion of an “America First” foreign policy has by most accounts taken control of a decision-making process once driven by members of the Washington establishment.

On Tuesday, speaking again to world leaders at the UN, Trump lambasted the “so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again.”

Sticking to a script that betrayed either a lack of awareness or an indifference to the audience at hand, Trump launched immediately into a characteristically hyperbolic exultation of his achievements since taking office, which was met with audible laughter.

“In less than two years my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” he touted, adding in response to chuckles from world leaders: “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay.”

Boasting of a strong stock market, progress towards erecting a border wall and increasing border security as well as a massive increase in military spending, Trump showered the hall with the same talking points that garner loud applause from his political base at campaign rallies.

“Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before… In other words: our country will be a stronger, safer and a richer country than it was when I assumed office.”

“We are standing up for America and for the American people. And we are also standing up for the world.”

Cutting foreign aid

Standing up for the world, Trump insisted, would in large part require retreating from it, so that other “countries could step up to provide more funding to protect their interests.

“The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world – by far – of foreign aid. But few give anything to us,” he lamented. “Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.”

“The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable,” Trump promised, adding that, to this end, “the United States will not pay more than 25% of the UN peacekeeping budget.”

Renegotiating trade agreements

In addition to getting other countries to commit more money for security, the US president stressed that his administration would continue its fight against trade abuses, pointing a finger at China.

“The United States opened our economy… yet other countries did not grant us fair and reciprocal access,” he claimed, continuing that trade deficits are the product of unfair trade practices.

Countries admitted to the World Trade Organization according to the speech, have since violated “every single principle” on which it is based.

“We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades, but those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse, we will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated and our wealth to be plundered and transferred.”

Despite having “great affection for Chinese President Xi Jinping,” Trump said that America’s trade imbalance with China is “not acceptable… China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.”

Trump praised what he has said are historic achievements in a renegotiated trade deal with South Korea, which was signed yesterday, and a partial agreement on trade with Mexico, announced last month.

Patriotism over globalism

Trump criticized the International Criminal Court for claiming near-universal jurisdiction, saying that the US “will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected unaccountable global bureaucracy.”

“We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.” Responsible nations, he added, “must defend against threats to sovereignty.”

In conclusion, Trump said sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle that has ensured peace and democracy and that only through a protection of this principle will countries find ways to cooperate.

“So together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride,” the President said, laying out a vision that stood in stark contrast to generations of presidential administrations’ use of the platform to advocate the spread of universal, liberal democratic values across the globe.

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