Sep 25, 2018

Trump at the UN: "Few give anything to us"

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.

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Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.

Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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What the coronavirus means for Trump's presidency

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A poor response to the coronavirus could be politically devastating for President Trump, and so far his administration has given the strong impression that it’s still scrambling as the risk of a pandemic mounts.

Why it matters: There’s only so much any president can do to stop a virus from spreading, and for now the coronavirus is still very much under control within the U.S. But if the disease get worse in the months ahead, and if the administration seems to be caught off guard, that spells trouble for public confidence in Trump.

Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. As Denmark and Estonia reported their first cases Thursday, Scott Morrison, prime minister of Australia — which has 23 confirmed infections — told a news conference, "The risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us."

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