If Nato Allies Want Our Protection, They Must Pay, Insists Trump
WASHINGTON: Donald Trump used a major speech yesterday (Wednesday) to lay out an "America first" foreign policy that would force Nato allies to contribute more to their own defence.
Castigating the "reckless and rudderless" policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that he claimed had "blazed a path of destruction" in the world, Mr Trump said he would return the US to a more self-interested approach.
"'America first' will be the major and overriding theme of my administration," the Republican frontrunner said in Washington, emphasising the need to view every decision "through the clear lens of American interest".
Mr Trump said he would return the US to the "peace through strength" philosophy of the Cold War by redoubling America's investments in its military and only taking on fights it can win, but said he would simultaneously reduce military support for key allies.
"We're rebuilding other countries while weakening our own," he said, insisting that America's foreign policy had been "a complete and overriding disaster" over the past two decades.
"I'm the only one - believe me, I know them all - I'm the only one that knows how to fix it," he said.
Rebalancing Nato Mr Trump said that as president he would call a Nato summit to pressure allies who had failed to hit spending targets and move the focus of the bloc away from Russia and on to terrorism and migration.
Calling both the mission and structure of Nato "outdated", the property mogul noted that just four of 28 countries were spending the required two per cent of GDP on defence.
"Our allies are not paying their fair share," he said.
"Our allies must contribute toward the financial, political and human costs of our tremendous security burden, but many of them are simply not doing so."
Mr Trump said that European and Asian allies had begun to view the US as "weak and forgiving", but would face a stark choice if he became commander-in-chief.
"The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defence, and, if not, the US must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves," he said. "We have no choice."
Away from the "path of destruction" Mr Trump saved his harshest criticism for President Barack Obama as well as Hillary Clinton, his probable general election opponent and Mr Obama's former secretary of state. The billionaire businessman accused the current administration of lacking "moral clarity", and bringing "humiliation" to the American people.
"If President Obama's goal had been to weaken America he could not have done a better job," Mr Trump said.
He accused the president of loosening ties with key allies such as Israel at a time when he was treating Iran with "tender loving care", and insisted that such blurred lines between friends and foes would not exist if he was in the Oval Office.
Mr Trump also said Mrs Clinton had "misled the nation" over the attacks in Benghazi that left Chris Stevens, a US ambassador, and three other Americans dead. He added: "And by the way, she was not awake to take that call at three o'clock in the morning, and now Isil is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil."
Relations with Russia and China
Mr Trump vowed to improve relations with both China and Russia "from a position of strength". US relations with Russia have been strained over issues including Moscow's support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Mr Trump said: "I believe an easing of tensions with Russia, from a position of strength only, is absolutely possible." He said he would seek to cooperate with Vladimir Putin in fighting global terrorism but if it didn't work he would "quickly walk from the table".
He said China "respects strength, and by letting them take advantage of us economically we have lost all their respect". Mr Trump said he would use US economic leverage to persuade China to rein in North Korea's nuclear programme and that would be "very persuasive".
He did not speak extensively about trade but in the past has indicated he might introduce tariffs of up to 45 per cent on Chinese goods to protect US manufacturing jobs.
Mr Trump also did not mention his previous controversial suggestion that Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons.
Isil will be 'gone very quickly'
Mr Trump said if he was president, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) would be gone "very, very quickly", but did not say how.
He said: "Their days are numbered. I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how. We must as a nation be more unpredictable." The billionaire said he would have a long-term plan to stop the spread of radical Islam but again did not go into detail. He said: "Containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States and, indeed, the world. Events may require the use of military force but it's also a philosophical struggle like our long struggle in the Cold War."
He struck a conciliatory tone in relation to US allies in the Middle East.
He said: "We're going to be working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world, all of which are at risk from radical Islamic violence.
"We're going to help, but they have to appreciate what we've done for them." Mr Trump said that the threat was also "within our homeland" and added: "We must stop importing extremism through senseless immigration policies."
"Our Embassy in Tanzaynia"
For his first formal foreign policy address, Mr Trump used a teleprompter, something he rarely does, and he appeared to struggle with his delivery at times. Speaking about the 1998 terrorist bombings of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania he referred to "our embassy in Tanzaynia."
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, later said: "Apparently the phonetics were not included on the teleprompter."
Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, Mr Trump and his wife Melania, who was celebrating her birthday, mingled with celebrities at the Time 100 gala, at Manhattan's Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other guests included Padma Lakshmi, Martha Stewart, Wendi Murdoch, Arianna Huffington and Reince Priebus - the chairman of the Republican National Committee.