UPDATE, 0940 GMT: A brief discussion on Radio France International, including EA’s Scott Lucas, about Trump’s speech on Iran at the UN — and reactions to it:
Donald Trump has used a speech to the UN General Assembly to promote himself, proclaiming his supposed historic achievements over the past 20 months.
Trump’s address repackaged his “America First” slogan and rejection of internationalism with parts of the world “going to hell”. As expected, he lashed out at Iran as his Administration tries to undermine the regime through sanctions. But he shifted from last year’s denunciation of “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, hailing a purported breakthrough in his June summit with Pyongyang’s leader.
Rather than setting out a unified US foreign policy, Trump focused on hailing himself, at one point drawing laughter of disbelief from the audience when he announced, “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
Other leaders soon pushed back on Trump’s self-promotion and rejection of cooperation. Minutes before he spoke, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said multilateralism was “under fire precisely when we need it most”.
Later in the day, French President Emmanuel Macron of France said the Paris climate change agreement had survived despite the Trump’s Administration withdrawal. He then called on countries to refuse trade deals with those who do not comply with the accord.
"Nationalism always leads to defeat." French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a fiery rebuke of US policies under Trump at the UN General Assembly, signaling that he is ready to take up the mantle of global leadership usually assumed by a US leader https://t.co/CosTOwK59x pic.twitter.com/5Mu4PdJiE3
— CNN (@CNN) September 26, 2018
Macron also called for renewed commitment to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, despite Trump’s withdrawal in May and announcement of comprehensive US sanctions by November 5. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran criticized the US Government for “economic terrorism” and called for cooperation in contrast to the supposed isolation of the US.
On Monday, France joined the remaining powers in the nuclear deal (Iran, Germany, the UK, Russia, and China) in restating adherence.
Trump labelled the Iranian regime a “corrupt dictatorship” stealing from its own people and supporting “terrorism” throughout the Middle East: “Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Not good.”
Trump declared that the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and other backing of the Netanyahu Government in Israel — including the cut-off of all US humanitarian aid to Palestine — meant Washington was no longer “held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again”.
He insisted that his embrace of Saudi Arabia — despite the Saudi-led military intervention in the Yemen civil war — had helped the fight against extremism. But Trump also chided Riyadh and other oil producers: “OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it.”
China also incurred Trump’s finger-wagging, in contrast to his earlier praise of leader Xi Jinping, amid the Administration’s trade war with Beijing: “I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions, and the way they deal, cannot be tolerated.”
Trump’s escalation over Beijing was part of a portrayal of his tariffs and pursuit of bilateral rather than multilateral arrangement — in a speech largely written by arch-protectionist Stephen Miller — responding to countries “ripping off” the US in “broken and bad trade deals”.
Trump did not mention Vladimir Putin or US policy on Russia, except to criticize Germany paying the Russians for construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.