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Trump outlines foreign policy strategy: America first

By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 27, 2016

WASHINGTON – Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump outlined his vision for the nation’s defense strategy Wednesday in his first major speech on the topic.

The speech centered on the five main weaknesses he sees in President Barack Obama’s current foreign policy: that the U.S. military is overextended and under-resourced; that U.S. allies do not pay more toward their own defenses; that negotiating the nuclear arms deal with Iran has alienated allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia; that competitors such as China and rivals such as North Korea no longer fear or respect U.S. foreign power; and that the U.S. no longer has a coherent foreign policy.

Throughout the speech Trump repeated elements of his foreign policy that have surfaced in recent weeks during his campaign, such as his opposition to the Iraq War.

Trump said the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq has strengthened Iran, and in the last decade has further destabilized the Middle East.

“I was totally against the war in Iraq ... very proudly,” Trump said. “Our actions in Iraq, Libya and Syria have helped unleash” the Islamic State group.

He said his administration would work on a long-term plan to stop the spread of radical Islam, and noted that plan may require a larger U.S. military presence in countries throughout the world.

Trump also repeated his promise to temporarily halt the immigration of Muslims into the U.S. as a way to protect against domestic attacks, such as the one in San Bernardino, Calif. That attack was carried out by Pakistani immigrant Tashfeen Malik and her husband, U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook.

Trump also said he would shift the U.S. position with Russia and China to improve those relations and negotiate “from a position of strength only.” He said as president he would meet with the Russian government to try to negotiate a new balance of power.

“If we can’t make a deal under my administration … a deal that is great for America … we will quickly walk from the table,” Trump said.

The speech, held at the Mayflower hotel in Washington, D.C., was the first in an expected series of policy speeches as Trump closes in on winning enough delegates to become the Republican presidential nominee. Some of Trump’s proposed foreign policies run counter to longstanding U.S. policy, including non-proliferation and its commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

In late March, Trump suggested that Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons, prompting Japan to publicly restate its commitment not to own or develop a nuclear weapon. Trump did not reiterate that message in Wednesday’s speech.

Trump repeated his campaign promise that he would require long-time U.S. allies in Asia and Europe to start reimbursing the U.S. for the defenses it has provided in terms of troops, aircraft carriers and overseas bases, or be prepared to face the possibility that the U.S. will stop providing for their defenses.

“Our allies must contribute toward their financial, political and human costs,” Trump said. “The countries must pay for the costs of this defense and if not the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”

Copp.tara@stripes.com
Twitter:@TaraCopp
 

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