NEW YORK (CBS News) — President Trump excoriated the “ideology of globalism” and multinational authorities, underscoring the importance of national sovereignty and need for countries to pay for their own defense in his address before the United Nations General Assembly in New York Tuesday.
The president’s second address before the body since taking office was marked by the president’s insistence that other nations look out for themselves and their own interests, and allow the United States to do the same.
“I honor every nation to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship,” Mr. Trump said. “We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.
The audience laughed at Mr. Trump — twice — during his speech.
One of the laugh lines came after the president claimed his administration has accomplished perhaps more than any other.
“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished almost more than any other administration in the history of our country. America’s – so true,” Mr. Trump said, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
“Didn’t expect that reaction but that’s OK,” the president said.
Mr. Trump also elicited laughs after blasting Germany’s dependence on Russian oil.
“Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course,” Mr. Trump said, to which the Germans laughed. “Here in the Western Hemisphere we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.”
Some on Twitter pointed to a tweet Mr. Trump fired off in August 2014 during the Obama administration, when he wrote, “We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire World. We need a truly great leader, a genius at strategy and winning. Respect!”
Mr. Trump said the United States “will not be taken advantage of any longer,” criticizing how he believes other nations have ripped the U.S. off on trade and defense spending.
The president also spent time lamenting the situation in Venezuela, one he blamed largely on socialism. Mr. Trump announced his administration is imposing new sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.
“All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone,” Mr. Trump said, using Venezuela as an example of how he believes socialism destroys nations.
Asked later about what intervention he might be considering in Venezuela, Mr. Trump said he’s looking very strongly at the possibility, given the horrible things happening there.
In his speech, Mr. Trump also took time to lambast Iran’s “corrupt dictatorship,” as a representative from Iran looked on with a scowl. Mr. Trump also reminded the audience of his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year.
“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Mr. Trump said. “The 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 behind. 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.”
Those comments came only hours after Mr. Trump on Twitter said he was sure Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, is a “lovely man,” comments that perplexed some given Rouhani’s reputation as a brutal leader.
On North Korea, a nation he famously blasted in his speech last year and threatened to “totally destroy,” Mr. Trump took a much softer approach. He touted what he views as progress on the Korean Peninsula, although North Korea has yet to show many substantive signs it is making good on its commitment to denuclearization.