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Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump defended his foreign policy today at the United Nations General Assembly, pledging more sanctions on Iran, further steps in the trade war with China, and a review of U.S. foreign assistance because "few give anything to us."

The big picture: The theme of Trump's speech was sovereignty, a point he summed up by saying the U.S. will not "tell you how to live and work and worship" so long as "you respect our sovereignty in return." He went after global institutions like the International Criminal Court and UN Human Rights Council, saying, "We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

Trump described his foreign policy as one of “'principled realism” with no regard for “old dogmas” and “so-called experts.”

  • He praised India for reducing poverty, Israel for its "vibrant democracy," Saudi Arabia for its "bold reforms" and Poland — which many claim is sliding toward authoritarianism — for "standing up" for freedom and sovereignty.
  • He also praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's "courage," but said there would be no sanctions relief until North Korea denuclearizes.
  • He attacked China for unfair trade practices, Germany over a controversial pipeline deal with Russia, and Venezuela, about which he said, "all nations should resist socialism and the misery it brings to everyone."
  • He called on other world leaders to isolate Iranian leadership, hours after Europe, Russia and China agreed to a payments system designed to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Trump took an unexpected swipe at OPEC, saying: "OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world. ... We defend many of these nations for nothing and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. ... We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer."

1 viral moment: At the start of his speech, Trump claimed to have accomplished more already than nearly every other U.S. president. That provoked a smattering of laughter, which grew louder when he smiled and said "so true ... Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK.”

The bottom line: Trump's tone was relatively measured, at least compared to the fireworks last year, but his message was pretty clear: the U.S. is getting a bad deal from the world, and isn't going to stand for it.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.