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U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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Brookings experts on Trump’s UNGA speech

On September 25, 2018, President Trump delivered his second address to the United Nations General Assembly. The speech was highly anticipated in light of President Trump’s often skeptical view of international institutions and multilateral cooperation, as well as recent tensions over U.S.-China trade, the future of the Iran nuclear deal and talks with North Korea, rhetorical spars with U.S. allies in Europe and elsewhere, and more.

Below, experts from across Brookings offer their comments on Trump’s speech.


 

Madam President, Mr. Secretary-General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity.

Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made.

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.) Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay. (Laughter and applause.)

America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we’ve added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low. African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We’ve added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs.

We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We’ve started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security.

We have secured record funding for our military — $700 billion this year, and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before.

In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and for the American people. And we are also standing up for the world.

x the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago
Vanda Felbab-Brown / Foreign Policy

Far from making the United States a “stronger, safer, and a richer country” throwback, unbound sovereignty hurts United States, as well as the well-being of its people and of people around the world. President Trump’s speech reflects a misguided dismissal of global governance and international rules. It’s a stunning break from U.S. foreign policy that for nearly a century has sought to foster institutions and rules to mitigate violent conflict, destructive economic competition, human rights abuses and authoritarianism, and environmental destruction—all in order to protect U.S. interests. While Washington has pursued problematic policies in the past, a core concept underpinning U.S. foreign policy had been a recognition that inward-looking and self-regarding approaches are counterproductive. Far from making America great, President Trump’s 2018 U.N. speech undermined U.S. interests and U.S. leadership.

This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors, and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace.

x We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors, and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace.
Célia Belin / Foreign Policy

President Trump's speech was an ode to sovereignty, celebrating different traditions and cultures, and suggesting that global governance is oppressive to free people. However, Europeans will certainly see the irony in the proclaimed "respect for the rights of neighbors," as they have been submitted to strong interventionism and intrusion on their sovereignty on part of the United States, which has imposed secondary sanctions against their companies willing to trade with Iran. How ironic is the praise of sovereignty when the Trump administration is seeking regime change in Iran. How ironic at a time when Europeans are frantically trying to regain sovereignty—for example, by setting up a Special Purpose Vehicle for regaining the right to trade with Iran.

Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.

I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship.

We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

x I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship.

We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.
Sharan Grewal / Foreign Policy

The contradiction between this statement and Trump's subsequent criticism of Iran, China, and Venezuela is jarring. A nice sound-bite but clearly empty rhetoric.

Ted Piccone / Foreign Policy

This is a direct attack on the universality of human rights and an invitation to governments, including autocrats, to block international monitoring and criticism of their violations. To see how countries like China are taking advantage of U.S. unilateralism and withdrawal, see my new paper. It also attempts to shield against any external criticism of U.S. transgressions. As seen in other parts of the speech, Trump then violates his own dictum by criticizing Iran, Venezuela, and Syria for their egregious actions against their own people.

Anthony F. Pipa / Global Economy and Development

The multilateral system was shaped by U.S. values. Protection of human rights and promotion of democratic governance are part of the foundation of the U.N., seen as intrinsic to achieving justice, peace, and freedom. The United States has been a historic defender of these values in the multilateral system. The abdication of this role weakens the system's ability to solve the very transnational problems for which it was designed. To make matters worse, it is happening just as peace, justice, and democratic governance (as Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals) were acknowledged and agreed in 2015 by all nations to be core to the development of all countries.

From Warsaw to Brussels, to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room, and our approach has already yielded incredible change.

With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face to face with North Korea’s leader, Chairman Kim Jong Un.

We had highly productive conversations and meetings, and we agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Since that meeting, we have already seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined only a short time ago.

x We had highly productive conversations and meetings, and we agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Since that meeting, we have already seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined only a short time ago.
Jung H. Pak / Foreign Policy

President Trump's tone on North Korea is a 180-degree turn from the aggressiveness of last year's speech, when he said the United States would "totally destroy" North Korea and derisively called Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man." This is a decidedly conciliatory tone, reflecting Trump's apparent desire to keep engaging with Kim, but Trump's continued use of the phrase "the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," North Korea's preferred formulation, shows how much Kim has shaped the language of negotiations to his advantage.

The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home to lay at rest in American soil.

x The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home to lay at rest in American soil.
Jung H. Pak / Foreign Policy

Kim Jong-un has taken some moves toward satisfying elements of the Singapore statement in June 2018, but President Trump is overselling Kim's actions. North Korea has toned down its rhetoric, refrained from missile and nuclear testing, and emphasized its desire for economic development, but reports indicate that it continues to advance nuclear weapons capabilities. Moreover, there are no credible signs that Kim is interested in FFVD—final, fully verified denuclearization. It's also notable how Trump-centric these comments are this year. Last year, in addition to the nuclear issue, he denounced North Korea's human rights violations, nonproliferation, the Japanese abductees issue, the murder of the American student Otto Warmbier, and the regime's use of chemical weapons to kill Kim's half-brother at a Malaysia airport.

I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.

I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment — a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand; far greater — but for also their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward.

A special thanks to President Moon of South Korea, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

x I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs. I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment — a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand; far greater — but for also their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward.

A special thanks to President Moon of South Korea, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.
Jung H. Pak / Foreign Policy

President Trump continues to "thank" or compliment Kim, suggesting that he has personalized this issue and is deeply invested in a "win" on North Korea. If anything, South Korean President Moon has done the most legwork to keep the engagement momentum going.

In the Middle East, our new approach is also yielding great strides and very historic change.

Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region.

x Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing.
Vanda Felbab-Brown / Foreign Policy

One presidential trip to the Middle East can hardly be credited for such an achievement. Rather, U.S. efforts to counter terrorism financing far pre-date President Trump. And in fact, this is exactly the type of U.S.-led international regime that Trump distained elsewhere in his speech. Now, he appears to claim credit for it.

Although some of the anti-money laundering laws that the United States has supported have turned out to unhelpfully limit governmental policies and even be counterproductive, without U.S. leadership, the United States and the world have had a harder time tracking terrorist money and attempting to constrain its financial pipelines.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen. And they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

x The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen. And they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.
Scott R. Anderson / Governance Studies

This assertion that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are seeking to alleviate humanitarian suffering and facilitate an end to the conflict in Yemen mirrors a controversial certification that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo submitted to Congress earlier this month in order to prevent a new statutory requirement enacted by Congress from cutting off certain U.S. support to the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Outside experts have questioned the accuracy of these assertions, particularly in relation to Saudi and UAE efforts to reduce civilian casualties resulting from their military operations. Recent media reports have also indicated that State Department experts opposed certification on similar grounds but were ultimately overruled.

Trump’s willingness to reiterate these controversial assertions underscores the importance his administration places on relations with Saudi Arabia, which has championed the Yemen campaign. While U.S. officials may be pressuring Saudi Arabia and the UAE behind the scenes, the Trump administration appears unwilling to risk any sort of public confrontation—even where doing so requires steps that put its credibility with Congress at risk. For its part, Congress has become increasingly concerned with the Yemen conflict's humanitarian toll and proven more willing to sets limits on what support may be provided. Thus, additional restrictions may be enacted that hinge less on officials' judgment and more on objective criteria subject to verification.

Daniel L. Byman / Foreign Policy

The United States needs to hold these allies to their pledge to mitigate what is now perhaps the world's worst humanitarian crisis. In addition, it must press the UAE and Saudi Arabia to support a negotiated settlement rather than continue their counterproductive war in Yemen.

Bruce Riedel / Foreign Policy

The president offered no support for the United Nations effort to end the war in Yemen. The horrific humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen is primarily the product of Saudi Arabia’s poorly planned intervention in the country; an intervention that is the signature initiative of Muhammad bin Salman.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children.

For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

x the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region
Bruce Riedel / Foreign Policy

Trump made no mention of the bitter dispute between the Saudis and Qatar that has torn the Gulf Cooperation Council apart and makes his pursuit of a strategic alliance illusory. Nor did he acknowledge that his visit to Riyadh last year gave the Saudis the blank check that prompted the blockade of Doha. The solution to the inter-Gulf conflict is essential to developing a unified approach to regional stability, but President Trump at the General Assembly was in denial that the problem exists. Without American leadership, the Qatari dispute will continue to play out across the region, forcing our allies to choose sides.

Natan Sachs / Foreign Policy

Rumors that a Middle East security alliance would be rolled out have been swirling for a while, but the rollout has been postponed. It’s hard to imagine a functioning, broadly construed, and formal alliance in the region, where interests—even among the countries listed here—diverge so strongly. Alliances depend on countries coming to each others’ aid even when that is not in their own direct interest to do so, and in the confidence each country has that the others will indeed follow through. Alliances in the Middle East have been tried in the past—all the way to the Baghdad Pact of the 1950s—but if anything, their chances of success are lower today, unless their aims are very focused and limited, more akin to ad hoc coalitions than alliances.

The impetus for regional cooperation and an American role in it is laudable, but it requires the myriad diplomatic efforts that only a sustained U.S. engagement can provide, building such ad hoc coalitions and sustaining them, not broad formal alliances with little chance of success.

Thanks to the United States military and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists any funding, territory or support, or any means of infiltrating our borders.

x I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria.
Daniel L. Byman / Foreign Policy

This is a real victory for the United States but it is incomplete. Rather than "driven out," the Islamic State is "driven underground"—they can (and will) reappear if pressure lets up.

Chris Meserole / Foreign Policy

This statement is patently untrue, and Trump has surely been briefed otherwise. Both the Pentagon and the U.N. have estimated that there are still about 30,000 ISIS militants inside Syria and Iraq. Although the Islamic State no longer governs much territory, its “bloodthirsty killers” have by no means been driven from all the provinces they once controlled.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict, along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations-led peace process be reinvigorated. But, rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

x But, rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.
Scott R. Anderson / Governance Studies

This is a reference to airstrikes that the Trump administration launched in April 2017 and April 2018 in response to prior Assad regime deployments of chemical weapons, and its repeated threats to pursue additional military action if the Assad regime makes use of chemical weapons again. Threatening such actions before the United Nations is particularly notable because Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter is generally seen as prohibiting the use of force against other states, except in self-defense or where authorized by the U.N. Security Council. While several U.N. member states expressed support for the Trump administration’s prior Syria strikes as a matter of policy, many others (including Russia) argued that they were in violation of international law.

For its part, the Trump administration has not yet attempted to reconcile its actions with the U.N. Charter or otherwise justify them under international law. That said, the legal opinion that the Trump administration ultimately released justifying its actions under domestic U.S. law does identify support for international legal restrictions on the use of chemical weapons as a relevant factor. France, which also participated in the April 2018 airstrikes, has followed suit. The United Kingdom, meanwhile, has advanced a novel theory asserting that its actions were lawful as a form of humanitarian intervention under international law.

I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war.

x I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war.
Jessica Brandt / Foreign Policy

The vast majority of Syrians who fled to neighboring countries in search of safety reside outside of refugee camps, largely in urban areas. In Turkey, that figure is as high as 90 percent. As a new Global Compact on Refugees is rolled out around the world beginning later this year, local authorities in frontline states should be viewed as essential stakeholders.

As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

x As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.
Jessica Brandt / Foreign Policy

Most refugees do stay close to home. Fewer than 1 percent have the opportunity to be resettled in a third country—*any* third country, including the United States. That was true before President Trump's dramatic cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

Refugees who are prioritized for resettlement are the most vulnerable—unaccompanied minors, women and girls at risk, survivors of torture, and those with special medical needs among them.

Providing assistance to refugees *where they are* is important. But it does not obviate the need for a robust U.S. refugee resettlement program, which among other things demonstrates solidarity with, and alleviates pressures on, states that already host large numbers of people fleeing violence.

James Kirchick / Foreign Policy

This statement is an implicit rebuke of Angela Merkel and others in Europe who have tried to encourage external migration into the European Union.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that has fueled and financed it: the corrupt dictatorship in Iran.

x Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that has fueled and financed it: the corrupt dictatorship in Iran.
Sharan Grewal / Foreign Policy

The absence of Russia in this discussion of Syria is striking. Russia has been every bit as important to propping up Bashar Assad as Iran.

Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. 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.

The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the people’s religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good.

Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the region’s [regime’s] agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal and re-impose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.

x The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget grew nearly 40 percent.
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani / Global Economy and Development

The windfall is the release of the Iranian funds frozen in the United States, and returned to Iran as part of the nuclear deal. No precise number for this "windfall" is available, but in the past President Trump has mentioned $150 billion, which is a sizable sum (one-third of Iran's GDP and three times its oil revenues at the time) and probably a gross exaggeration. The figure mentioned most by Obama administration officials was $50 billion, which is much closer to the truth.

The claim of a 40 percent increase in Iran's military budget is also an overstatement. According to figures published by the Stockholm Institute for Peace, Iran’s military expenditures increased from $12.3 billion in 2016 to $14.5 billion in 2017, up by 18.6 percent. Interestingly, Iran’s own budget numbers show an increase of 39.7 percent in defense expenditures for these years. But this increase is in nominal terms and does not take into account that prices in 2017 were 10 to 15 percent higher than in 2016. Thus in real terms, the increase is closer to the Stockholm Institute estimates.

It is worth noting that Iran’s defense expenditures may be higher because Iran’s military has its own economic operations that generate revenue. But even counting the off-budget expenditures, Iran’s defense budget is far lower than the $69.4 billion defense budget of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional competitor, with one-third of Iran’s population.

The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda.

x The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda.
Suzanne Maloney / Foreign Policy

Trump's re-imposition of sanctions on Iran has had a severe impact on Iran's economy. On a tactical basis, U.S. measures are highly successful: International firms are running for the exits to avoid U.S. penalties and the value of Iran's currency has plummeted. But tactics aren't strategy, and Trump's speech as well as his recent Iran-related tweets leave real ambiguity about his end game and the means of achieving it. If the Trump administration is serious about negotiating a treaty relationship with Tehran, the White House needs to articulate a viable strategy for engaging with Iran around a vast and complicated array of issues. Pressure in and of itself won't generate a durable negotiating track or a bargain that is broader and more advantageous to Washington than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. And if the point of pressure is regime change, it's unlikely to work out; dissatisfaction alone rarely produced democratic transitions, and an authoriarian regime that sees its existence threatened by economic pressure may only turn inward and more antagonistic toward the region and its own citizens.

Last month, we began re-imposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that had been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5th, and more will follow. And we’re working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially.

x And we’re working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially.
Suzanne Maloney / Foreign Policy

With his call on countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil "substantially," the president appears to be softening the administration's stance as the November deadline for sanctions targeting Iran's oil revenues nears. Since Trump's May decision to walk away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a number of senior administration officials have insisted that they intend to reduce Iran's exports to zero by November. This represented a much more intense application of these measures as compared to their original implementation by the Obama administration, which sought "significant" reductions of approximately 20 percent. Several importers, including South Korea and Japan, appear to be on track to meet Trump's demands.

However, Iran's top importers—China and India—can't afford to zero out their imports from Iran, and they have a strategic interest in ensuring diverse sources of energy supplies that entails a continuing relationship with Tehran. Trump's seeming mollification of his subordinates' efforts to press for zero Iranian oil exports suggests an awareness of these realities. His modulated rhetoric may also reflect an appreciation of the prospect that cutting off all of Iran's oil supplies (2.2 thousand barrels per day at the time of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal) could nudge oil prices higher and impact the U.S. economy as well as the domestic political mood on the eve of midterm elections in the United States.

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America,” and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. Just can’t do it.

We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues. And we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

x We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.
Suzanne Maloney / Foreign Policy

The Trump administration may be asking, but the president's decision to walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has alienated the other parties to that agreement, including Russia, China, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union. In many cases, their companies have complied with newly reimposed U.S. sanctions, but the prospects of generating cooperation from their governments on isolating Iran are essentially nil. This is one of several places on Iran where Trump's tactics run directly counter his intended outcome.

This year, we also took another significant step forward in the Middle East. In recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital, I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts.

x This year, we also took another significant step forward in the Middle East. In recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital, I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts.
Hady Amr/ Foreign Policy

President Trump celebrated his shift of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. While there can and should be zero questioning of the Jewish people’s deep and historic ties to the ancient city, the United States can and should have also recognized the Palestinian people’s deep and historic ties to the city as well. Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, as I wrote in December, was certain to spark instability—and it did. It sparked Gaza’s great return march, which has led to thousands of Palestinian casualties and led to the severe degradation of the U.S.-Palestinian relationship. As a result, ironically, Israel may now have better relations with the Palestinian leadership than the United States!

Sharan Grewal / Foreign Policy

Don’t hold your breath. King Abdullah’s recent statement that he has “no idea” what’s in the plan suggests there has been little movement on this front. The “deal of the century” has clearly taken a back seat.

Natan Sachs / Foreign Policy

Trump is correct that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that this fact is, in fact, obvious. When foreign leaders address the Israeli parliament they do not do it in Beer Sheva, Eilat, or Tel Aviv; they come to the Knesset in Jerusalem. Even President Sadat of Egypt did so in Jerusalem. Indeed, there is something absurd about countries’ refusal to recognize even West Jerusalem as Israeli, a statement, in effect, that they do not accept the outcome of the 1948 war (after which West Jerusalem became Israeli). It has nothing to do with 1967 (when East Jerusalem was captured), or the occupation of the West Bank. Indeed, Trump’s speech on Jerusalem was carefully worded and delivered; it was not a typical Trump speech. It did not mention a “united Jerusalem” and even explicitly left open the option for borders to be delineated later on, in peace talks.

Where Trump is simply wrong is that this move will advance peace; it has in fact stalled his peace effort. He could have mentioned East Jerusalem in that speech and made clear that the United States hopes to have an embassy to Palestine there. He could have made clear that this move did not prejudice the status of the holy sites in the city in any way. Instead, it was seen by all as a huge symbolic prize to the Israelis at the expense of the Palestinians, even of non-Palestinian Muslims. It was a valid message delivered in a deeply harmful way.

America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again. This is true not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity.

We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer.

x We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal
Landry Signé / Global Economy and Development

In order ensure fair and reciprocal trade relations between Africa and the United States, President Trump should shift away from a country-specific approach of trade agreements with Africa. Instead, he should adopt a continental one through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Such an approach will be more beneficial for both American corporations and African countries, as the continent is poised to become home to $6.7 trillion of combined consumer and business spending and 1.7 billion people by 2030. Launched in March 2018, the AfCFTA is a groundbreaking achievement in African trade and regional integration, which will open up trade across the continent, as well as accelerate industrialization, economic diversification, industrialization, and development. With a continental approach, both African and American corporations and citizens will benefit from reduced cost of doing business, economies of scale, lower tariffs, and increased commercial transaction. For this to happen, the AfCFTA still needs to be implemented. The challenge to scale up and speed up successful implementation of the AfCFTA lies with the governments. As I discussed in my book, "Innovating Development Strategies in Africa: The Role of International, Regional, and National Actors," leaders should favor innovations that facilitate effective delivery and socioeconomic transformations in the long run.

For decades, the United States opened its economy — the largest, by far, on Earth — with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders.

Yet, other countries did not grant us fair and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year.

For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement. And just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand new U.S.-Korea trade deal. And this is just the beginning.

Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based. While the United States and many other nations play by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engage in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property.

The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. And we have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

x The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. And we have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.
Rush Doshi / Foreign Policy

China’s accession to the World Trade Organization certainly harmed U.S. manufacturing, but a “before” and “after” statistic about jobs does not establish that it was China’s accession that was principally responsible for job losses. It is strange that Trump's team employed such a crude statistic, especially when several prominent studies that isolate the "China factor" and its effect on U.S. jobs are readily available and offer easily citable statistics.

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. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens.

The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods for a total, so far, of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend, President Xi, but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

x The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods for a total, so far, of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend, President Xi, but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.
David Dollar/ Foreign Policy

China's current account surplus is down to 1 percent of GDP, so China is not the problem for global imbalances. Furthermore, tariffs are not an effective tool to address the U.S. trade deficit because they reduce both imports and exports. When the United States limited imports in the 1930s and the 1970s, in both cases the U.S. trade deficit increased because exports fell more than imports.

Rush Doshi / Foreign Policy

President Trump continues to praise Xi and attack China in the same breath, but his efforts are unlikely to dramatically restore U.S. manufacturing employment, especially as manufacturers consider nearby alternatives to China like Cambodia and Vietnam. Jobs, however, may not be the point. Indeed, as some in the administration have suggested, the trade war with China may be motivated by a desire to force supply chains out of China to other countries as a way of reducing U.S. asymmetric dependence on China’s nodal role in electronics and other supply chains.

Ryan Hass / Foreign Policy

In measuring the effectiveness of his China trade policy based on the U.S.-China trade balance, President Trump is setting himself up for failure. Under President Trump, the United States is on track to set a new record this year for the largest trade deficit in the history of U.S.-China relations.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest.

I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken.

So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted. For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.

x I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken.

So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted. For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.
Scott R. Anderson / Governance Studies

This description of the ICC's structure and jurisdiction is deliberately misleading. Both ICC judges and prosecutors are elected and subject to removal by ICC member states. The ICC's jurisdiction is limited to four categories of offenses—genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression—and can only reach crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of ICC member states absent a U.N. Security Council referral. Even then, a case is inadmissible where national authorities who are able and willing to carry out fair proceedings are addressing the matter.

This does not mean, however, that the ICC poses no legal risk to the United States. ICC judges are currently weighing whether to authorize an investigation into the conflict in Afghanistan, which joined the ICC in 2003. If approved, this investigation may even extend to the U.S. rendition, detention, and interrogation of terrorism suspects within ICC member states such as Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

Trump’s decision to attack the ICC instead of frankly addressing these concerns likely reflects the influence of his National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is a noted ICC skeptic and made similar remarks in a speech earlier this month. Such rhetoric aligns with Trump’s broader theme of sovereignty and may speak to his domestic political base, but is unlikely to persuade U.N. member states who have acceded to the ICC’s jurisdiction and are more familiar with its operations.

Célia Belin / Foreign Policy

Only a couple of hours after president Trump's speech, French President Emmanuel Macron took the stage, offered a strong rebuttal to Trumpism, and called for a renewed multilateralism. Among the numerous striking points of disagreement between the two leaders: the U.N. Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court (as well as UNESCO and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, both mentioned by the French), which the two leaders view through completely different lenses. These two narratives are starting to draw the contours of two camps within the West.

Ted Piccone / Foreign Policy

This reaffirms National Security Advisor John Bolton's extremist view that the International Criminal Court is illegitimate. The ICC is a fact of international law and practice, and has protections for national sovereignty and due process. The United States has no reason to fear it if it carries out fair investigations of allegations of war crimes committed by its citizens. Bolton's threat to sanction and prosecute ICC judges, staff, and anyone cooperating with them to investigate U.S. citizens is beyond the pale.

America is governed by Americans. 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 governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.

In America, we believe strongly in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth.

The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas.

OPEC and OPEC nations, are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good.

We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices, and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it — these horrible prices — much longer.

x OPEC and OPEC nations, are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good
Tarun Chhabra / Foreign Policy

This includes Saudi Arabia, which is otherwise singled out for high praise elsewhere in the speech.

Samantha Gross / Foreign Policy

President Trump has made similar statements via his Twitter account, but seeing a threat like this in front of the U.N. General Assembly is shocking. President Trump's policy to severely curtail oil exports from Iran is an important driver of today's high oil prices. OPEC (apart from Iran) and Russia have already increased production in response, and there are limits to how much more they could do. I don't know whether this bluster is for a U.S. domestic audience, showing that President Trump cares about rising gasoline prices, or whether the president believes he can force OPEC to produce more. But it demonstrates a misunderstanding of oil market conditions.

Djavad Salehi-Isfahani / Global Economy and Development

It is not clear which OPEC nations the president has in mind when he speaks of the United States defending them "for nothing." I can only think of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE that could remotely fit this description. But, I bet that most people in these countries would beg to differ from the president regarding "taking advantage” of the United States. Iraq is still recovering from the devastation caused by the U.S. invasion in 2003, and the latter two spend large sums every year on purchasing military hardware from the United States.

Blaming OPEC for rising prices is probably intended to deflect criticism from President Trump’s Iran sanctions, which are expected to take 1 to 2 million barrels per day of Iranian oil out of a very tight market. As a cartel with voluntary membership, OPEC has little power over its members’ production. In any case, OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, are producing close to their production capacities and cannot do much more to reduce prices.

Bruce Riedel / Foreign Policy

While touting Saudi Arabia’s “bold reforms,” the president savaged OPEC for ripping off the world with high oil prices. Of course, Saudi Arabia is the leader of OPEC. The contradiction is apparently lost in the White House. While decrying the “horrible” oil prices the Saudis have helped set, President Trump implied they don’t spend enough on defense. But Saudi Arabia is the third-largest military spender in the world and is pouring billions of dollars into the quagmire in Yemen.

Natan Sachs / Foreign Policy

The Middle East often seems like the only place where the Trump administration has clung to old partnerships rather than strained them. Elsewhere in this speech, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the UAE are praised, and the administration has indeed conistently sided with them in regional affairs. To these partners, this seems like a welcome correction from the Obama years; rather than what they saw as an aloof Obama—above the fray of their quarrels (with Iran in particular)—they got a partisan Trump, who’s on their side.

Yet in this passage, "America First" is back. Here is the classic Trump admonition for allies (and non-allies) in OPEC

In energy, and in the politically-explosive issue of gas prices in the United States, Trump's two inclinations in the Middle East come to a head.

Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states, such as Poland, for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

x Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states, such as Poland, for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.
Célia Belin / Foreign Policy

There is barely any positive mention of European allies—apart from Poland, which gets special treatment. But Germany has to face yet again a new sharp criticism, echoing President Trump's criticism of Nord Stream 2 at the NATO summit. Also absent from the speech is any discussion of the challenges of climate change, however central they appear in other countries' UNGA speeches.

James Kirchick / Foreign Policy

This is an exaggeration—only 20 percent of Germany's energy mix comes from gas, most of which is from Russia—but President Trump is nonetheless right to criticize Germany for an energy policy that sacrifices the security and interests of fellow NATO and EU members to its east in exchange for cheaper energy prices.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.

It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs.

x Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs.
Tarun Chhabra / Foreign Policy

This and the unqualified invocation of the Monroe Doctrine (below) suggest an openness to a “spheres of influence” model of world order. Since 1945, the United States has generally supported the independence of our friends and allies from expansionist foreign powers around the world, rejecting such an order on the basis that it will be unstable and lead to conflict.

Rush Doshi / Foreign Policy

In 2013, then-Secretary of State John Kerry told Latin American diplomats that "the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over." In contrast, Trump administration officials, like former National Security Council Senior Director Craig Deare and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, had endorsed it, especially within the context of great power competition with China. Trump’s decision to bring up the Monroe Doctrine before the General Assembly escalated that language and was a mistake—it legitimizes the idea that great powers like China and Russia might claim "spheres of influence," all while failing to charm Latin Americans, deter foreign powers, or bolster American values. Americans have legitimate reasons to be wary of Chinese influence in Latin America, but bringing those concerns up in such a clumsy fashion at the U.N. General Assembly is counterproductive.

Ryan Hass / Foreign Policy

Such assertions are akin to seeking to wish away China's expanding influence in Latin America by arguing that Chinese activism is not allowed under the Monroe Doctrine. The contrast between President Trump's public shaming and President Xi's proffers of "assistance" will come into sharper contrast when Xi visits the region around the time of the G-20 in Argentina in late November.

Ted Piccone / Foreign Policy

Trump's invocation of the Monroe Doctrine will be received in the Latin America region as a naked reassertion of U.S. hegemony in the hemisphere at a time when Latin America has become deeply intertwined in the global economic system. A more explicit warning to China, Russia, and Iran to disengage from both licit and illicit activities in Venezuela, for example, (and the United States for that matter) would have been better.

The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national security threats, and we welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It’s a horrible thing that’s going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It’s very, very cruel.

Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.

x Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.
Vanda Felbab-Brown / Foreign Policy

The Trump administration has adopted inhumane immigration policies. The barbaric policy of separating migrant children from their parents is not only destructive, but counterproductive. The separation trauma severely undermines the children’s healthy development and can produce long-term emotional and cognitive damage, including adult attachment disorders, depression, and even proclivity to criminality. Escaping from chronic crime-related trauma is what motivates many Central American families to seek asylum in the United States, not something the U.S. government should compound.

In his speech, President Trump again vilified illegal immigration by linking it to criminality and negative economic effects. But there is no evidence that undocumented residents are the dominant factor behind violent crimes in the United States. The vast majority of violent crimes, including murders, are committed by native-born Americans. Multiple criminological studies show that foreign-born individuals commit much lower levels of crime than do the native-born.

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same — which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.

x We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same — which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.
Jessica Brandt / Foreign Policy

The Global Compact on Migration is a non-binding political declaration—a statement of principles. The final draft text, which is expected to be adopted in December, "reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law." It would not take migration policy decisions out of the hands of U.S. officials.

Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy, as an example, in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors.

Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on Earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty.

Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.

x All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.
James Kirchick / Foreign Policy

This statement is absolutely true and it's nice to hear a U.S. president saying it, but it does contradict the president's earlier assertion that "the United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship."

In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisors.

We are grateful for all the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families.

The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart.

x The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart.
Hady Amr/ Foreign Policy

President Trump says that the United States is the biggest donor of foreign aid. Although true in absolute terms, it is absolutely false in terms of our economy. In fact, we give only about 0.18 percent of our gross national income (GNI) in development assistance, which is 3 to 4 times less than some of our allies: 0.70 percent for the United Kingdom, 0.66 percent for Germany, 0.43 percent for France, 0.29 percent for Italy, and 0.26 percent for Canada. (See a map view here.) Trump also says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will conduct a review based on how much the governments of receiving countries respect us. Instead, review should be on: 1) our values (alleviating disasters, feeding the poor, restoring human rights), and 2) our national security interests, not whether a country gives us a pretty smile. Further, because much of our aid bolsters the residents of receiving countries, not their governments, cutting aid is often of no consequence to the governments.

Anthony F. Pipa / Global Economy and Development

Actually, the United States received more than 150 offers of unsolicited aid from countries after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It also received at least 30 offers of aid after the BP oil spill. In both cases, the U.S. government was slow to accept and process such offers. As a consequence, some of the in-kind donations were ultimately wasted and unusable.

But that belies the faulty logic of this statement. The United States does not give foreign assistance because it expects assistance in return. From the Marshall Plan to the current day, the United States has been the leader in providing overseas aid because it directly supports U.S. interests and security, and as importantly, because it reflects our highest values and principles as a nation. The quid pro quo implied here reveals how this president views foreign aid primarily through a transactional lens, rather than a robust pillar of U.S. foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defense.

Transactional aid is President Trump’s doctrine when it comes to foreign assistance. He has been consistent in his skepticism about the effectiveness of aid. Given that skepticism, he is prone to see aid primarily as a bargaining chip to advance his own political interests or to get countries to do what he wants.

Yet the trouble that the administration has encountered in trying to develop a policy that codifies this sentiment reveals its arbitrariness, its inherent contradictions, and the dangers it poses. Defining “friend” is tricky and arbitrary. President Trump himself emphasizes the sovereignty of nations to act in their own interests; for any nation, those interests will align with the United States only part of the time. And withdrawing such aid offers the opportunity for China or others to step into the leadership vacuum.

It's more straightforward—and ultimately more useful—to stay focused on maximizing the effectiveness of U.S. aid and leverage the relationships that result from success.

Tamara Cofman Wittes / Foreign Policy

Recall that President Trump has requested steep cuts to the State Department/USAID budget for the past two years; Congress has simply overruled him. Two things to note here: 1) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading up this review; Trump didn’t mention USAID head Mark Green, and 2) When Pompeo took over at the State Department, I wondered whether he would work to secure the budgetary resources of his new agency, even if solely for his own prestige. But the review and the clear expectation of cuts in the next paragraph means that Pompeo won State/USAID just a temporary reprieve from Office of Budget and Management Director Mick Mulvaney’s massive cuts, not a full pardon.

Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget. This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden.

And we are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success.

Only when each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the U.N.’s highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

Looking around this hall where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. And our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit.

The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here in this body are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class.

There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the Crown Prince are pursuing bold new reforms.

There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land.

In Poland, a great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home.

The whole world is richer, humanity is better, because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, and each shining brightly in its part of the world.

In each one, we see awesome promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be.

In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. And we prize the culture that sustains our liberty -– a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and above all, we love our country.

Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland.

The passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it. To build with it. To draw on its ancient wisdom. And to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better.

To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.

When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

x We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.
Tarun Chhabra / Foreign Policy

Recent history begs to differ, and suggests instead that resurgent nationalisms will yield greater disorder and violence.

So together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. And let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations, forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just, and forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the nations of the world.

Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

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