"The leader stepped to the podium of the United Nations General Assembly, as close to a literal world stage as exists, and issued a stringent defense of the principle of national sovereignty. ‘What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one's own future for every person, nation and state,’ he said, attacking what he identified as the hypocrisy of those who seek to violate sovereignty in the name of stopping mass murder. ‘Aggressive foreign interference,’ the leader continued, ‘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.’ The leader was not Donald Trump on Tuesday, but Vladimir Putin in 2015. Whatever nexus between Putin and Trump exists for Robert Mueller to discover, the evidence of their compatible visions of foreign affairs was on display at the United Nations clearer than ever, with Trump’s aggressive incantation of ‘sovereignty, security and prosperity’ as the path to world peace. ‘There can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations, nations that are rooted in the histories and invested in their destiny,’ Trump said, hitting his familiar blood-and-soil themes that echo from the darker moments in European history. Their two speeches are stylistically different. Putin’s metier is to meld contempt for western powers with unstated but obvious threats. Nothing about Trump will ever be understated. He threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation – leaving aside that a war will engulf South Korea, Japan, Guam and perhaps China as well – and looked forward to the end of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the only real substantive difference he has with Putin. Sovereignty is not a point prior American presidents have pressed. When global leaders invoke sovereignty, they usually mean that no one possesses the right to oppose what they unleash within their borders. American presidents typically tailor their speeches at the UN to counterbalance a due respect for national sovereignty with calls for collective action against genocide, terrorism, disease, poverty, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. But now, 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. Trump’s call for a ‘respect for law, a respect for borders, a respect for culture’ sounds unobjectionable – until it becomes clear that Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea will enjoy no such respect from Washington for their own sovereignty. Much as Putin said in 2015 that Russia recognizes ‘the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world,’ Trump’s conception of sovereignty is inevitably reserves the U.S. the right to impose its will. "