President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations on Tuesday drew on a seemingly contradictory blend of defending nations’ rights to sovereignty and asserting the United States’ right to interfere in other nations’ sovereignty.
The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman analyzed Trump’s speech and noted some similarities between a 2015 speech gave by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He begins by quoting a particularly Trump-like passages from Putin’s speech in which he attacks Western powers for intervening in Russian affairs even as his own country was intervening in Ukraine and Syria.
“What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here?” Putin said in 2015. “It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one’s own future for every person, nation and state… Aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster.”
Noting that Trump spent a good deal of his time similarly talking about sovereignty, Ackerman notes that “sovereignty is not a point prior American presidents have pressed,” as “when global leaders invoke sovereignty, they usually mean that no one possesses the right to oppose what they unleash within their borders.”
That said, Ackerman notes that Trump asserting the right of the United States to attack Iran, North Korea and other “rogue” states certainly sets up conflict with Russia and China, which each have ties to those governments.
Nonetheless, Ackerman concludes that, “Putin finally has an American president who considers national sovereignty as the end of the discussion, or at least in the cases where it serves their purposes.”