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Trump’s laughed-at UN speech shows US moral high ground lost to Iran



Donald Trump UNGA
leaders at the United Nations General Assembly laughed at
President Donald Trump on Tuesday when he claimed his
administration had accomplished more than any other in US

John Moore/Getty

  • President Donald Trump was laughed at during his speech
    to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday for saying he had led an
    effective administration.
  • Trump went on to bash Iran in the speech, and Iran’s
    president later made a speech saying Trump had a “Nazi
  • Iran traffics in violent anti-Semitism and seeks to
    destroy Israel, but Trump was the joke of the day while
    European powers rushed to engage with Iran.
  • Trump’s trade wars against allies and disdain for
    multilateral agreements have isolated the US on the world

President Donald Trump’s laughed-at speech to the UN
General Assembly
on Tuesday, and Iranian President Rouhani’s
follow-up response, demonstrated clearly how the US has lost its
moral high ground on the world stage.

Trump started his UN speech much like one of his signature
campaign rallies: by touting his achievements since taking office
two years ago in trademark hyperbolic terms. 

“In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more
than almost any administration in the history of our country,”
Trump said, prompting laughter.

Trump’s qualified claim — to have “almost” done more than any
other administration in two years — wasn’t factually false. But
the assembly nonetheless laughed out loud at the idea that Trump
has led an effective presidency. 

The rest of Trump’s speech focused on singling out Iran and
Venezuela, two countries engaged in horrible human rights abuses
against their own people, yet somehow cast as sympathetic figures
before the UN.

When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke hours later at the
same podium, he rebuked Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal and
went on to accuse him of having a “Nazi disposition” and
xenophobic attitudes.

Iran openly plots Israel’s destruction and the killing of Jewish
people. It is a theocratic regime led by religious leaders that
persecutes its LGBT citizens as well as religious minorities. Iran’s
politics have been rife with holocaust deniers
and they support Hamas, a foreign group that attacks Israel with flaming kites
bearing swastikas meant to burn down fields

But at the UN on Tuesday, its was the US president accused of
Nazi leanings, and it drew no laughter from the crowd.

US moral high ground collapsed

Iranian missiles bear messages to the effect of “death to


Trump is currently renegotiating trade deals with several US
allies, including Canada and Mexico, using high tariffs for
leverage. Trump’s trade practices portray an unabashed
mercantilism, which, ironically, mirrors the behavior he wishes
to punish China for. 

The Iran deal, which China, the UK, France, and Germany, remain
party to, sought to ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for a
solid commitment form it to not seek out nuclear weapons.

But now, Trump has withdrawn from the deal and wants the same
countries his trade practices have beaten up to join him in
cutting ties with Iran, which has kept its side of the deal.

Trump has actually largely succeeded in using sanctions to scare
off businesses from transacting with Iran, but the EU on Tuesday announced a plan
to introduce a barter system with Iran to facilitate trade while
dodging US sanctions. 

Here’s how Dina Esfandiary, an Iran and nuclear disarmament
expert at Kings College London, summed up Rouhani’s speech
on Twitter: “Globally, a
political win for him: #Trump’s speech was laughed at, while
#Iran seems to be a pragmatic power, continuing its
implementation of the deal.”

In short, Trump has found himself isolated by allies who now
increasingly look to work among themselves to cut out the US.

To be sure, the UN isn’t a lauded judge of morality, as its
own organs stand linked to
and its Human Rights Council includes chronic
underachievers such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. 

At the UN General Assembly in 2018, it’s funny that Trump thinks
himself an effective president. But the scramble to engage with
Iran, so it won’t build a nuclear weapon to point at Isreal, is
no joke. 

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