Trump urges more nationalist worldview in first UN address


JUDY WOODRUFF: For President Trump today, a time to press a new world view and lay down the law. It was his inaugural address to the U.N. General Assembly.

Lisa Desjardins has our report.

MAN: His excellency, Donald Trump, president of the United States of America.

LISA DESJARDINS: At the U.N., stepping onto the literal world stage, President Trump spoke with uncompromising words.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As president of the United States, I will always put America first. Just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.

LISA DESJARDINS: He had one key word, sovereign, something he said more than 20 times.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny.

LISA DESJARDINS: The U.S. will work with other countries, Mr. Trump said, but expect to benefit more from the effort. He outlined a possible doctrine.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are guided by outcomes, not ideology. We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests and values. That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room. Will we slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats and even wars that we face.

Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

LISA DESJARDINS: The president painted those dangers in stark and specific strokes.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries. If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.

LISA DESJARDINS: Chief among the wicked few, North Korea, its leader, Kim Jong-un, and its missile tests and nuclear explosions. The president was blunt.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.

Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.

LISA DESJARDINS: The president next turned to Iran, lambasting recent missile tests and its relationship with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.

LISA DESJARDINS: Monitors have found Iran is sticking to the terms of the nuclear deal, but Mr. Trump warned again the U.S. might pull out.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered in to. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don't think you have heard the last of it, believe me.

LISA DESJARDINS: In all, the president singled out five nations, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and, in this hemisphere, Cuba and Venezuela.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

LISA DESJARDINS: This was part of a broader theme, a return to a pointed, ardent defense of democracy vs. socialism.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

LISA DESJARDINS: Later, Venezuela's foreign minister complained the speech smacked of a bygone era.

JORGE ARREAZA, Foreign Minister, Venezuela: This return to the cold world, for a moment, we didn't know if we were listening to President Reagan in 1982 or to President Trump in 2017.

LISA DESJARDINS: Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, joined in the criticism. In a tweet, he called the Trump address hate speech.

Overall, the president's speech was a vision of self-interest and nationalism across the world.

DONALD TRUMP: Are we still patriots? Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?

LISA DESJARDINS: The president said history will tell whether the leaders are up to the task.

For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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