President Donald Trump kicked off his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday much like his presidential predecessors did in theirs: with a celebration of U.S. achievements. He bragged about America’s economy and its endlessly growing military budget. But then he effortlessly switched to threatening “twisted” North Korea, “murderous” Iran, and “corrupt” Venezuela.
In between, he told the assembled world leaders that lots of places are “going to hell,” and that America wants to “crush the loser terrorists.”
But when Trump addressed the U.N. members for the first time, he also left a lot unsaid.
Specifically, he didn’t mention:
Despite this year’s historically destructive summer of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and a devastating monsoon season in South Asia, Trump didn’t touch the subject of global warming. He thanked leaders who offered assistance to Americans who’ve suffered under those “devastating hurricanes.” But he offered no support for what scientists say will be necessary to mitigate an oncoming global environmental catastrophe: limiting carbon dioxide emissions.
He also didn’t mention reports that his White House may be reconsidering its decision to abandon the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gases. Walking away from that project, which remains a high priority with Europe and China, cost America a degree of global leadership, political analysts say.
In 2014, the U.S. government warned that climate change will make weather damage worse.
Trump did make a passing reference to “threats to [the] sovereignty” of Ukraine. He also thanked Russia for its vote in the U.N. to tighten sanctions on North Korea. But Moscow’s alleged role in foreign elections, including America’s, didn’t get a mention by Trump.
Russia escaped the scorn Trump poured out on North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, “international criminal networks” and terrorists.
Trump’s silence stood in stark contrast to statements made the same day by his own nominee for ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, who told the Senate: “There is no question that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year and Moscow continues to meddle in the democratic processes of our friends and allies.”
Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar
Meanwhile in Southeast Asia, over 410,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee into neighboring Bangladesh amid reports government troops are shooting them, raping them, burning their villages and planting landmines in their path as they try to run away. The U.N. itself has called the campaign “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina briefly spoke to Trump about the refugee crisis underway in her country, but she later told reporters that Trump “didn’t make any comments about the refugees.”
Trump likewise made a vague reference to threats to sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea and thanked China for its vote against North Korea. But he didn’t lambast China for its trade practices, a once-trusted talking point in the early aughts of his presidency.
Trump held a pre-game meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday before his big speech, and said that when it comes to Middle East peace talks, “we are giving it an absolute go.” But that apparently didn’t mean Israeli-Palestinian peace talks deserved a mention in Trump’s biggest-ever speech on international affairs. Instead, he talked about tearing up America’s nuclear deal with Iran, an issue Netanyahu has lobbied hard for. Trump is scheduled to meet with the Palestinians in the coming days.
Netanyahu loved the speech. “In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” the Israeli Prime Minister tweeted.
The U.S.-backed Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen
Trump bragged that America “continues to lead the world” in humanitarian assistance to Yemen and Somalia. But he didn’t mention American support for the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen’s civil war, which the U.N. itself said Tuesday are the leading cause of the 13,920 civilians killed and wounded in the conflict so far.
The U.S. faces mounting pressure from rights groups for its role in Yemen.