President Donald Trump may have hoped that his Tuesday speech at the United Nations would be remembered for its eloquence, or at least for something resembling effectiveness. Given that it was greeted with laughter — of the "laughing at you, not with you" kind — within its opening moments, these goals were not achieved, if indeed Trump ever had them.
"Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we've made. In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," Trump told assembled world leaders, according to CNN.
Much of the room clearly did not share this sentiment, based on the audible laughter that met his comment.
"So true. I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK," Trump mused in response to the laughter, prompting even louder laughter in return.
As Trump spoke to the United Nations, he faced a crowd that has been increasingly uncertain about the president and his right-wing, nationalist agenda. Trump's "America First" foreign policies – they share the same name as the isolationist movement that was popular among right-wingers in America prior to World War II – have included pulling America out of the Paris climate accord; opposing free trade deals with North America, Europe and Asia; and shunning multilateral alliances that promote democracy, such as NATO, in favor of praising dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
Trump defended his policies by touting them as being in the best interest of Americans. "The United States is a stronger, safer and richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago," Trump said, according to NPR. "We are standing up for America and the American people and we are also standing up for the world."
The president also addressed the issue of trade policy – one that has caused considerable concern within the international community due to Trump's stoking of trade tensions with nations like China and Mexico.
"We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal," Trump told the United Nations. "We will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated and our wealth to be plundered and transferred."
The president also justified his administration's decision to withdraw America from the Iran nuclear deal. "Iran's leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction," Trump told the delegates. "They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations."
He additionally urged the assembled nations to follow America's lead in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government. "The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda," Trump told the United Nations.