NEW YORK—President Donald Trump laid out his vision for the world in his first speech to the United Nations.
Central to his vision are strong nation-states that take care of their citizens while respecting other nations.
“I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first,” Trump said in the speech before the 72nd U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19.
Trump said that a world full of proud independent nations is the way for a future of “dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful earth.”
“The whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free,” he said.
These strong nations would not just coexist, but actively work together based on the principle of mutual respect.
Pointing to the origins of the U.N., which came into existence soon after the end of World War II, Trump said the initial idea was that diverse nations could cooperate together to protect their sovereignty, security, and promote prosperity.
“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even the same systems of government,” Trump said. “But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.”
He pointed to the Marshall Plan, in which the United States provided help to postwar Europe without imposing its way of life on the countries there. Instead, Trump said, the United States helped Europe to recover and to create institutions, such as the U.N., that would help to guarantee world peace.
Opportunity and Inspiration
Talking about the recent successes in America—a stock market that’s at an all-time high and the “lowest unemployment rate in 16 years”—Trump sought to hold up America as an example of the importance of the nation-state.
Trump ran his presidential campaign on a platform of “America first.”
“We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” Trump told members of the U.N., saying it was up to world leaders to “lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.”
He said that the United States does not seek to impose its way of life on other nations, but rather to become a shining example.
Pointing to the Constitution as a timeless document that has for centuries been the source of peace and prosperity for Americans, he said generations of Americans have sacrificed themselves for the first three words: “We the people.”
“In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign,” Trump said.
Trump’s call for strong nation-states was in sharp contrast to President Barack Obama’s speech in 2016, in which he called for further global integration.
In his speech, Trump expressed his hopes to work closely together with other nations for a safer world.
He also called out rogue regimes, such as North Korea and Iran, and communist dictatorships, such as Cuba, for their depraved ideologies.
“From the Soviet Union to Cuba, to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure,” he said.
Trump said he had been honored to speak in Saudi Arabia in May to over 50 Arab nations, and to cooperate with them in the fight against terrorism.
He said the world could not allow “radical Islamic terrorism” to rip the world apart.
“We must drive them out of our nation,” Trump said, adding that those who finance terror groups should be held accountable.
“America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields,” Trump said, “from the beaches of Europe, to the deserts of the Middle East, to the jungles in Asia.”
He said it was imperative for the world’s nations to uphold the respect for their borders and to respect the law.
Learning From the Past
Trump extolled the virtues of patriotism in his speech by pointing to past examples of heroism by those who fought against evil for their countries.
“Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain,” he said.
Trump said the true question for the U.N. as well as the people of the world is, “Are we still patriots?”
“Do we love our nations enough to preserve their interests? … History is asking whether we are up to the task,” he said.
He referenced American patriot John Adams, who said that the American Revolution was in the minds of the people long before the war was fought.
“What do we mean by the revolution?” Adams wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on Aug. 24, 1815. “The war? That was no part of the revolution. It was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people.”
Trump said it was time for the world to “defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself,” calling for “a great reawakening of nations” and for a revival of their spirit and patriotism.
In finishing his speech, Trump thanked God and asked for God’s blessings on “the nations of the world,” as well as on the United States.