Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump yesterday promised a top-to-bottom overhaul of US foreign policy to put “America First” and make its allies pay up.
In a speech short on specifics that left Washington policy experts scratching their heads, Trump warned that Europe and Asia may have to defend themselves.
He vowed to tear up trade deals, re-tool Nato to oppose migration and “radical Islam” and put US national interests ahead of all other considerations.
“’America First’ will be the major and overriding theme of my administration,” he said, co-opting the slogan of America’s pre-World War II isolationists.
The speech had been billed to give Trump, the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, a chance to win over a sceptical foreign policy establishment.
But many were quick to point out the contradictions in a strategy of restoring US strength and crushing the Islamic State group while cutting allies loose.
“Our foreign policy is a complete disaster,” he said, dismissing all presidents to have served since the Cold War, both Republicans and Democrats.
“We’re rebuilding other countries while weakening our own,” he said, decrying nation-building missions in the Middle East and the US trade deficit with China.
“Our allies are not paying their fair share,” he said, pointing the finger at both Nato and close Asian allies such as Japan and South Korea.
“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.
“We have no choice,” he warned, complaining of the “trillions of dollars” he claimed have been wasted shoring up Cold War-era defences.
Despite this, he quickly pivoted to an attack on President Barack Obama – accusing him of abandoning US allies like Israel while reaching out to Iran.
“We picked fights with our oldest friends and now they’re starting to look elsewhere for help. Remember that. Not good,” Trump declared.
He was clear, however, on where the greatest threat to the US now lies, accusing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton of a refusal to name it.
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