Quantcast
Connect with us

Trump’s foreign policy speech offers few details but clear message: America first

Published

on

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, US April 27, 2016. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Rolling out an “America first” foreign policy, Republican front-runner Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday that if he were elected president, U.S. allies in Europe and Asia would have to fend for themselves if they did not pay more for the U.S. defense umbrella.

Trump’s speech, delivered with a teleprompter in a staid Washington hotel ballroom, was an attempt to show he can be more presidential and move past the rancorous rhetoric that he routinely uses on the campaign trail.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is time to shake the rust off of America’s foreign policy. It’s time to invite new voices and new visions into the fold,” he said in a speech that savaged the foreign policy of Democratic President Barack Obama as a disaster.

But the message Trump delivered appeared contradictory at times and was largely devoid of details.

He spoke of building up the U.S. military as a deterrent to U.S. adversaries, but said American allies in Europe and Asia would have to pay more for U.S. defenses provided by Washington.

He issued this stern message on paying for defense, but said the United States under his leadership would be “a reliable friend and ally again.”

He was sharply critical of immediate past presidents, both Republican and Democratic, for getting Americans involved in military conflicts abroad, but said the United States may well need to use force to defeat Islamic State militants.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a hawkish Republican who was a presidential candidate until dropping out early this year, panned Trump’s speech, saying it did not reflect conservative policy.

“It’s isolationism surrounded by disconnected thought, demonstrates lack of understanding threats we face,” Graham wrote on Twitter. “Not sure who is advising Trump on foreign policy but I can understand why he’s not revealing their names.”

The New York billionaire spoke the day after victories in five Northeastern states that moved him closer to capturing the Republican Party presidential nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump has gone from outsider last year to party front-runner with a plain-talking campaign that has often appealed to working class voters who feel let down by globalization, free trade and the decline of American manufacturing in recent decades.

His foreign policy speech echoed that populist message: depicting a need to ease the U.S. financial burden overseas, focus more on nation-building at home and make sure American companies pay a price for outsourcing jobs to countries where labor is cheaper.

ADVERTISEMENT

“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make,” Trump said. “‘America first’ will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”

Trump’s nearest rival for the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, said in a tweet, “Donald’s speech is the most dramatic evidence thus far that he fails the presidential test.”

‘SELLING A DREAM’

Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, said Trump’s speech did not contain enough details to call it a strategy.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Ultimately, he’s selling a dream and he’s still not offering a plan. He’s representing the sales office, but he’s given no clue of who will be the architect and who will do the construction,” he said.

Trump did not stray from the ideas that have helped put him close to winning the Republican presidential nomination.

He was particularly withering in his critique of Obama’s foreign policy, saying the president has let China take advantage of the United States and not been able to persuade Beijing to rein in North Korea.

“We have the leverage. We have the power over China, economic power, and people don’t understand it. And with that economic power, we can rein in and we can get them to do what they have to do with North Korea, which is totally out of control,” Trump said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump, a real estate developer who frequently touts his ability to negotiate deals, said he would negotiate with China from a position of strength.”China respects strength and by letting them take advantage of us economically we have lost all their respect,” he said.

According to social media analytics firm Zoomph, Twitter reaction to the speech was more positive than negative, with roughly 100 posts per minute mentioning the Republican front-runner.

‘REBALANCING’ SUMMITS

Perhaps the most specific policy prescription offered by Trump was to say he would organize two summits, for NATO allies and Asian allies, to discuss “rebalancing” the alliances to ease the financial burden to the United States.

“The countries we defend must pay for the cost of this defense. If not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice,” Trump said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump said he would build up the U.S. military to keep pace with Chinese and Russian military programs but would use American armed forces only when absolutely necessary.

With U.S.-Russian relations strained over numerous issues including Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Trump said “an easing of tensions with Russia from a position of strength” is possible.

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, said Trump got input from a number of sources.

“He talked to a lot of people. However, I would just note that all you’ve got to do is listen to the speech, it was Trump. That was him,” Sessions said.

(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick, Warren Strobel and Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu in Washington and Anjali Athavaley and Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry)

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Rod Rosenstein secretly crippled the Mueller investigation: report

Published

on

According to a report from the New York Times, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had a hand in limiting the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and the Russians by secretly curtailing an FBI counterintelligence probe.

The report from Michael Schmidt of the Times begins by stating, "The Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials," before adding, "But law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Meanest and most disrespectful’ senator: Trump lashes out at Kamala Harris in latest presser

Published

on

At Tuesday's White House press conference, President Donald Trump spent a considerable portion of the time attacking Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who was just announced to be former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate.

Harris, complained Trump, was the "meanest and most disrespectful person in the U.S. Senate." He particularly dwelled on her sharp interrogation of Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court hearings.

Trump also added that she "lied" about a number of issues, claimed repeatedly she wants to raise taxes, said she is for "open borders and sanctuary cities ... which is also protecting a large number of criminals," and that she would destroy the Second Amendment.

Continue Reading
 

Elections 2016

California bill to establish nation’s second public bank applauded as ‘historic challenge to Wall Street domination’

Published

on

"If California is serious about addressing racial and income inequities, we must create a banking system that centers people not profits."

In a move advocacy groups celebrated as a "historic challenge to Wall Street domination of municipal finances," a pair of California state lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation that would establish the nation's second publicly-owned bank and empower the institution to lend to businesses and local governments fighting to stay afloat amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE