President Trump railed against the governments of Iran and China — among others — in a 45-minute speech at the United Nations Tuesday morning, accusing leaders from each country of having a “thirst for control [that] deludes them into thinking they are destined to rule over others.”
The speech struck familiar nationalist notes, rejecting globalism and urging member nations to protect their sovereignty — an ill-fitting message to deliver at the multilateral summit of world leaders. But it was his targeting of Iran and China that stood out.
With Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sitting directly in front of him, Trump excoriated the country’s leadership. And though cable-news and Twitter pundits have fixated mostly on Trump’s sleepy delivery off the teleprompter, the contents of the speech were anything but: Iran is “just another cautionary tale of what happens when a ruling class abandons its people and embarks on a crusade for personal power and riches,” Trump said.
“The regime’s record of death and destruction is well known to us all. Not only is Iran the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism, but Iran’s leaders are fueling the tragic wars in both Syria and Yemen,” he continued. “At the same time, the regime is squandering the nation’s wealth and future In a fanatical quest for nuclear weapons.”
The speech came just one week after Trump tweeted a thinly veiled threat to bomb the country over its alleged involvement in a strike on oil refineries in Saudi Arabia.
That conflict escalated over the last week and culminated in the U.S. announcing a new round of sanctions against Iran’s national bank.
“No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust,” Trump said at the UN on Tuesday, justifying the sanctions. “They conduct ritual chants of ‘death to America’ and traffic in monstrous anti-Semitism.”
Trump also spent several minutes excoriating the Chinese government, his frequent punching bag, for what he called an attempt to manipulate global leaders.
“The second-largest economy in the world should not be permitted to declare itself a developing country in order to game the system at others’ expense,” Trump said.
Trump also rattled off the ways China has slighted the United States: America lost 60,000 factories after China entered the World Trade Organization, Trump said. It steals the intellectual property of American tech companies, like Micron, a memory chip manufacturer. It failed to implement promised reforms.
He added that the United States would continue to monitor ongoing, wide-scale protests in Hong Kong. “We fully expect them to honor their treaty with China,” Trump said.
“We are all counting on President Xi as a great leader. The United States does not seek conflict with another nation,” he said, before adding, “but I will never fail to defend America’s interests.”
It wasn’t the only time in the speech that he hinted that he would use economic or military power against foreign countries.
“Above all, the United States, after having spent over two and a half trillion dollars since my election to completely rebuild our great military, is also by far the world’s most powerful nation,” Trump said early in his speech.
Pointedly, he added, “Hopefully, it will never have to use this power.”
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly this morning. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)