Trump tells Nato to pay up for protection

By David Lawler, Nick Allen

‘America first’ vision outlined in his debut foreign policy address.
Trump said that as president he would call a Nato summit to pressure allies who had failed to hit spending targets. Photo / AP
Trump said that as president he would call a Nato summit to pressure allies who had failed to hit spending targets. Photo / AP

Donald Trump used a major speech 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 President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he claimed had "blazed a path of destruction" in the world, Trump said he would return to a more self-interested approach.

"America first, will be the major and overriding theme of my administration," the Republican front-runner said in Washington.

In other developments in the US presidential election yesterday:

• Ted Cruz did something normally reserved for presumptive nominees rather than struggling underdogs: He announced a vice-presidential running mate - former candidate Carly Fiorina. Cruz is trying one unorthodox manoeuvre after another in the hope of forcing a contested Republican convention in Cleveland.

• The campaign of Bernie Sanders said it is shedding "hundreds" of staffers in a move to "right-size" with just a few contests left on the Democratic nominating calendar.

1. Rebalancing Nato

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 Calling both the mission and structure of Nato "outdated", the property mogul noted that just four of 28 countries were spending the required 2 per cent of GDP on defence - "our allies are not paying their fair share".

Trump said 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. We have no choice."

2. Away from "path of destruction"

Trump accused the Obama Administration of lacking "moral clarity", and bringing "humiliation" on the American people. "If President Obama's goal had been to weaken America he could not have done a better job," Trump said.

He accused the President of loosening ties with key allies such as Israel while 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.

Trump also said Clinton had "misled the nation" over the attacks in Benghazi. "And by the way, she was not awake to take that call at 3 o'clock in the morning, and now Isis is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil."

3. Relations with Russia and China

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. He said he would seek to co-operate with President 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". Trump said he would use US economic leverage to persuade China to rein in North Korea.

4. Isis will be 'gone very quickly'

Trump said if he was president, Isis would be gone "very, very quickly".

"Their days are numbered," he said. "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.

The Donald's hyperbole

By his own admission years ago, Donald Trump likes to speak with "truthful hyperbole" at times.

Here's what that mix of reality and exaggeration looked like in the Republican presidential contender's foreign policy pronouncements yesterday.

1. Trump on Isis and Libya

Isis (Islamic State) militants are "making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil. And you know what? We don't blockade. We don't bomb. We don't do anything about it. It's almost as if our country doesn't even know what's happening, which could be a fact."

The hyperbole:

The prospect of Isis controlling and profiting from Libyan oil is a concern, not today's reality. While Isis affiliates in Libya have taken swathes of territory and attacked petroleum facilities, they have not yet been able to export oil in any significant quantity. Last month, a panel of UN experts reported that while Isis "does not currently generate direct revenue from the exploitation of oil in Libya, its attacks against oil installations seriously compromise the country's economic stability."

To date there is no evidence that the militants are operating oilfields they have attacked.

2. Trump on Egypt

The Obama Administration "helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power" in Egypt.

The hyperbole:

Yes and no. The Obama Administration did abandon longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak, a move that led to his ouster and the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was the most well organised of Egypt's opposition groups. But the Administration did not directly help the Brotherhood come to power. It sought to work with the country's first democratically elected president, the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, but became frustrated with his erratic rule.

3. Trump on Iran

On reaching the nuclear deal with the Iranians, "We watched them ignore its terms even before the ink was dry."

The hyperbole:

Iran has met all of its obligations under the deal to sideline its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions. But that's not the whole story. By conducting ballistic missile tests, Iran arguably defied a UN Security Council resolution that enshrines the nuclear deal. That resolution calls on Iran not to test ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons. Iran argues its missiles are not made for nuclear payloads and the resolution merely urged it not to conduct the tests. The US disagrees and calls the tests a violation of the resolution - but not of the nuclear deal itself.

4. Trump on trade

"Our manufacturing trade deficit with the world is now approaching $1 trillion a year."

The hyperbole:

The trade deficit in goods was US$759 billion in 2015, according to the Census Bureau. It's been flat for five years and remains below its pre-recession peak of US$837 billion in 2006. A trajectory reaching US$1 trillion any time soon seems improbable at best.AP

- Telegraph Group Ltd, Washington Post-Bloomberg

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