Trump addresses the UN General Assembly in New York, September 2018.
Carlo Allegri / REUTERS

The United States has less reason to worry about its sovereignty than any other country in the world. No other country enjoys as much freedom from external interference—military, economic, or diplomatic. Which is why other national leaders find it perplexing that U.S. presidents addressing the United Nations invariably find it necessary to proclaim yet again that they will never allow any arrogation of U.S. sovereignty. 

“We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy,” U.S. President Donald Trump declared this week in his second UN General Assembly speech. “America is governed by Americans.” He was hardly the first U.S. president to make the point. George H. W. Bush put it positively in his 1991 address to the General Assembly, seeing international institutions as an asset in service of an international order “in which no nation must surrender one iota of its own

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  • BRUCE JONES is Director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution.
  • More By Bruce Jones