Trump's U.N. General Assembly Speech

Sep 25, 2018
Originally published on September 25, 2018 3:40 pm
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President Trump took center stage at the United Nations today. At the annual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump addressed leaders from around the world and used the opportunity to complain about the way the rest of the world has treated the United States. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe reports.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: President Trump did not say America first during his speech at the United Nations, but he didn't have to. His message was clear. His administration will look out for the needs of Americans first and foremost, and other governments should look out for their own people, too.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governments but also from other new forms of coercion and domination.

RASCOE: According to Trump, one nation that is not honoring other countries' sovereignty is Iran. Trump had very tough words for the Iranian regime, which he accused of sowing chaos and death.

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TRUMP: They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran's leaders plunder the nation's resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.

RASCOE: Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in May. He complained the deal didn't address Iran's development of ballistic missiles or its support for terrorism. In his speech, he asked all nations to join the U.S. in isolating Iran's regime, but it's unclear how many nations will heed Trump's call. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have pledged to continue to uphold the agreement despite the U.S. withdrawal. Trump also voiced his complaints about international trade and China in particular. He blames China for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs and factories.

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TRUMP: 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.

RASCOE: In many ways, the speech was an outline of grievances from Trump about the international community. Trump said the U.S. gives more in foreign aid than the rest of the world but gets little in return. From now on, he said, the U.S. will only give to nations that respect the U.S. Trump also said his government will not allow OPEC, the cartel of oil-producing countries, to continue to drive up oil prices.

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TRUMP: OPEC and OPEC nations are as usual ripping off the rest of the world, and I don't like it. Nobody should like it.

RASCOE: There was a lighter moment at the start of Trump's speech when he boasted about his tenure so far.

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TRUMP: In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America's - so true.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: That prompted laughter from the audience.

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TRUMP: Didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: Trump began his remarks by saying the U.S. will not tell other countries how to live. In the end, though, he urged countries to embrace patriotism and independence. It will be up to those independent nations to decide whether they take his advice. Ayesha Rascoe, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.