President Donald Trump is highlighting U.S. gains under his watch as he opens his address to the U.N. General Assembly — and is getting a laugh.
Trump told leaders from around the world Tuesday the American economy is “booming like never before” and his administration has accomplished more in less than two years than almost any other administration. His boast elicited laughter from the scores of heads of state and delegates in the audience for the speech.
Trump responded by saying, “I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”
Trump says the U.S. is a “stronger, safer and richer country” than when he took office in January 2017. He says “we are standing up for America and for the American people, and we are also standing up for the world.”
Trump is asserting American sovereignty and rejecting “global governance, control and domination.”
Trump said Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly he honors the right of every nation to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. He says the United States will never tell other nations how to live, work or worship.
But Trump says the United States expects other nations to “honor America’s sovereignty in return.”
His opening line Tuesday, as he bragged about how successful his administration has been, was widely laughed at by the assembled group of world leaders.
Trump briefly appeared flustered before remarking that it was not the reaction he expected.
Trump has long claimed that his predecessors’ weak leadership prompted other nations “to laugh” at the U.S.
Some in the audience also grumbled during Trump’s remarks when he said “we reject the ideology” of globalism and criticized nations such as Germany for agreeing to an oil pipeline with Russia.
Trump seized his opportunity to assert American independence from the international body. He was unapologetic about his decisions to engage with the erstwhile pariah North Korea, remove the U.S. from the international Iran nuclear accord and object to U.N. programs he believes are contrary to American interests.
“We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism,” Trump said.
He referenced a long list of U.N. initiatives, from the International Criminal Court to the Human Rights Council, that his administration is working to undermine.
“As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy and no authority,” he said. The U.S. is boycotting the Human Rights Council, arguing it overlooks abuses by some and serves as a venue for anti-American and anti-Israeli action.
“The U.S. will not tell you how to live and work or worship,” Trump said. “We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return”
Trump’s denunciation of globalism drew murmurs from the room that stands as the very embodiment of the notion.
Our correspondents are in New York City reporting news, highlights, and behind the scenes features as the UN General Assembly begins its 2018 session.
Barely an hour earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres defended international cooperation as the only way to tackle the challenges and threats of increasingly chaotic times.
“Democratic principles are under siege,” Guterres said. “The world is more connected, yet societies are becoming more fragmented. Challenges are growing outward, while many people are turning inward. Multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most.”
Other tense moments included Trump’s criticism of Germany’s pursuit of a direct energy pipeline from Russia, which drew a dismissive headshake from a member of the U.S. ally’s delegation. His mention of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar all in one breath, was received by stone-faced Saudi officials. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been boycotting Doha since last year as part of a political dispute tearing apart the typically clubby Gulf Arab nations.
The laughter in the first moments of the address evoked a campaign line Trump frequently deployed against his predecessor Barack Obama — who embraced international engagement — suggesting that due to weak American leadership, “the world is laughing at us.”
In 2014, Trump tweeted “We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire World. We need a truly great leader, a genius at strategy and winning. Respect!”
Story by The Associated Press with additional information from CGTN.