'The future does not belong to globalists': Trump pushes nationalism in U.N. speech

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By Adam Edelman  with NBC News Politics
Image: President Donald Trump speaks at the United Nations General Assembly
President Donald Trump speaks at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24, 2019.   -   Copyright  Lucas Jackson Reuters

Embracing nationalism before the largest annual gathering of world leaders Tuesday, President Donald Trump used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly to push his "America First" foreign policy agenda — and urged his fellow heads of state to follow suit.

"The free world must embrace its national foundations," Trump said. "It must not attempt to erase them or replace them."

"Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first," Trump continued. "The future does not belong to globalists. The future belong to patriots."

He added that globalism had "exerted a religious pull over past leaders causing them to ignore their own national interests."

"But as far as America is concerned," he said, "those days are over."

Running through a laundry list of topics that frequently appear in his campaign speeches, Trump touted the U.S. economy, claiming that his "pro-growth" agenda had resulted in historically low unemployment, and blasted "open borders" and those who advocate for them.

"Your policies are not just. Your policies are cruel and evil," Trump said. "You put your own false sense of virtue before the lives, well-being, and countless innocent people. When you undermine border security, you are undermining human rights and human dignity."

And he boasted about the U.S. being the "number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world" and ripped a "small number of social media platforms" that have acquired "immense power over what we can see and over what we are allowed to say."

Even when it came to international issues, Trump largely discussed American priorities, singling out China on trade. He pointed to the "massive tariffs" he placed on Chinese-made goods — "decisive action" he claimed would "end" the "grave economic injustice" of the large trade deficit the U.S. has with the country.

Trump, however, added that he was "carefully monitoring the situation in Hong Kong."

"How China chooses to deal with this situation will say a great deal about its role in the world in the future," he said.

Later in the speech, Trump turned his attention to other nations, taking aim at Venezuela and Iran, whose regime he called "one of the greatest threats facing peace-loving nations today." He accused Iran of "fueling tragic wars in both Syria and Yemen."

"The United States does not seek conflict with any other country… But I will never fail to defend America's interests," Trump said. He said that the punishing sanctions his administration has levied on Tehran "will not be lifted" as long as its "menacing behavior continues."

Trump also called embattled Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro a "Cuban puppet." As for North Korea, Trump said that the U.S. "has never believed in permanent enemies" but that the regime "must denuclearize."

But he ended his speech on the same nationalism-tinged note he began on, imploring his fellow leaders "lift up your nations."

"Make your countries strong and prosperous and righteous, honor the dignity of your people," he said.