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On Tuesday, President Trump made his third address to the United Nations General Assembly amid simmering tensions in the Middle East over recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which the United States blames on Iran. Tehran denies the allegations. Trump also lashed out at China and Venezuela.
We speak with Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor of LeftWord Books. His latest article for Salon is headlined "World leaders gather at the UN in the face of war, climate catastrophe & global worker exploitation."
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonza'lez.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, on Tuesday, President Trump made his third address to the United Nations General Assembly amid simmering tensions in the Middle East over recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which the United States blames on Iran. Tehran denies the allegations. This is Trump addressing the General Assembly.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran's bloodlust. As long as Iran's menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted; they will be tightened.
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump also lashed out at China and Venezuela.
For more, we go to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where we're joined by Vijay Prashad, whose article on Salon is headlined "World leaders gather at the UN in the face of war, climate catastrophe & global worker exploitation." Vijay Prashad is the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor of LeftWord Books, also chief correspondent of Globetrotter and author of The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South.
We thank you so much for being with us, Vijay. Can you respond to what now seems like ancient history, which was actually just yesterday morning, President Trump addressing the U.N. General Assembly, right before, a few hours before, it was announced that the House would begin formal impeachment proceedings against him? But talk about his message.
VIJAY PRASHAD: You're quite right, Amy. It does appear like ancient history. But it's a very you know, it was a very chilling speech. Trump attempted to suggest that he was a nationalist, you know, pushing the agenda of so-called patriotism against globalism. That's how Trump tried to define his own politics.
Of course, this is quite incoherent. On the one side, Mr. Trump and people like him use the term "patriotism" or "sovereignty" to defend their right not to participate in international treaties, such as treaties about climate change, about refugees, you know, and about the Iran nuclear deal. You had Bolsonaro give a very spirited defense of so-called Brazilian sovereignty to allow the Amazon to be exploited. So, you had Mr. Trump, for instance, here use this language of sovereignty to remove the United States from its international obligations. On the other side, quite in contradistinction to this, Mr. Trump put forward what can only be described as an imperialist agenda. In other words, there was no consideration for the sovereignty of Iran or Venezuela. In fact, he used language which I was quite shocked by the term "bloodlust," for instance, to describe Iranian foreign policy.
So, you know, it wasn't quite patriotism on one side, or sovereignty on one side, and globalism. It wasn't a principle distinction. In fact, behind the cover of sovereignty, Mr. Trump was saying countries like the United States and Brazil don't have to conform to the climate treaties that have been agreed upon on the international stage. You know, we just had this very powerful climate strike initiated by Greta Thunberg. I think this kind of thing, this kind of attitude about sovereignty, was a way of setting that aside. But on the other hand, as I said, incoherently, he lashed out at Iran.
And, you know, you've got to understand that the countries of the world are not interested in a war against Iran. And the same day, Mr. Macron, the president of France, met with Iran's President Rouhani, and they talked about revisiting the diplomatic table, coming back and opening a discussion about diplomacy. This is something the United States completely abhors, doesn't want diplomacy with Iran, doesn't want diplomacy with Venezuela. I thought it was a very dangerous speech. And you're quite correct: It has been, in a sense, overwhelmed by this discussion about impeachment.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Vijay Prashad, he also, as you mentioned, talked about Venezuela, blasting the Venezuelan leadership, President Maduro, and at one point saying that socialism, as he said, not capitalism, only benefits the ruling class. Could you talk about his continued fixation on Venezuela?