When US President Donald Trump took the podium at the UN headquarters Tuesday, his isolationist views turned himself into the minority as world leaders gathered in New York for the 73rd UN General Assembly.
Unexpected & unusual laughter
Trump was immediately interrupted by laughter from the audience as he began his speech with a boast that his team has accomplished "more than almost any administration" in US history.
The audience's reaction is "highly unusual" in the solemn General Assembly, AFP news agency observed.
"I didn't expect that reaction, but that's okay," Trump responded and continued with a string of gains since he assumed office, including a lower unemployment rate, tax cuts, more powerful military and foreign relations, and his historic summit with North Korea's top leader in June.
Trump later launched attacks on the current world order and offered a robust defense of the US right to go it alone, urging heavy pressure on Iran and Washington's main trading partners.
Trump's views on the current world (Excerpts from his address delivered at opening session of the 73rd UN General Assembly )
"The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran's leaders."
"We ask all nations to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues."
"We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer."
"America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."
On OPEC and oil prices:
"We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good."
French President Emmanuel Macron offered an alternative view when it was his turn at the podium, rebuking the Trump administration's isolationist policies.
Macron told the delegates that the law of the survival of the fittest, protectionism and isolationism would only lead to heightened tensions, or even worse.
Defending multilateralism and collective action, he said nationalism would lead to failure and if countries stopped defending basic principles, global wars would return.
"I do not accept the erosion of multilateralism and don't accept our history unraveling," Macron told the assembly, at times raising his voice. "Our children are watching."
Macron, citing the example of Iran, said that this unilateralism push would lead directly to conflicts.
Macron saved perhaps his toughest words for the issue of climate change. After praising countries which remain committed to Paris Agreement, he called for boycotting trade agreements with those who don't comply with the landmark deal reached in 2015.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed similar concerns over the rising anti-multilateralism sentiment. He warned that "The world is more connected, yet societies are becoming more fragmented. Challenges are growing outward, while many people are turning inward. Multilateralism is under fire precisely when we need it most."
"In the face of massive, existential threats to people and the planet ... there is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good," he added.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, addressing the UN chamber after Trump, sharply criticized the US president's decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.
"Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength. Rather, it is a symptom of the weakness of intellect – it betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world," he said.
US-Iran relations deteriorated further before Rouhani kicked off his UN trip. A group of gunmen stormed a military parade in southwestern Iran, killing at least 25 people. Iranian leaders blamed regional countries and their "US master" for funding and arming the separatists.
Brazilian President Michel Temer said, "We live in times clouded by isolationist forces. Old forms of intolerance are being rekindled." He urged world leaders to recommit to international cooperation.
(Sources: AP, AFP, Reuters and CNN / Compiled by Chen Lidan)