UPDATED: 1 p.m. EDT -- Donald Trump departed from his apparent off-the-cuff, impromptu-style of delivering campaign speeches and instead Wednesday relied on a pre-written address to offer what his campaign hopes would be greeted as more “presidential” views on foreign policy and national security.
"It's time to shake the rust off of America's foreign policy," he said in his opening remarks, insisting he had the blueprint for "how to develop a new foreign policy direction for our country." As president, he said, he would replace "randomness with purpose and choice."
The Islamic State's days "are numbered," Trump said to a light round of applause. "I won't tell them when and I won't tell them how," a reference to U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement Monday that he was sending 250 additional U.S. troops to Syria. "We must as a nation be more unpredictable. ... We have to be unpredictable, and we have to be unpredictable starting now.”
Trump, who was introduced by Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Afghanistan and Iraq, said there are five weaknesses in American foreign policy that must be addressed. "I'm the only one who knows how to fix it," he insisted before continuing: "The direction I will outline today will also return us to a timeless principle."
— CNN (@CNN) April 27, 2016
First, the U.S.' resources are overextended, Trump said, adding that "Obama has crippled us with wasteful spending, massive debt, huge trade deficit and open borders." Secondly, "our allies are not paying their fair share" for the tremendous security burden Trump said the U.S. bears. "They look at the U.S. as weak and forgiving," he added.
Additionally, Trump said the U.S. is turning away its friends. "Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Under a Trump administration, they'll never ever be allowed to have that nuclear weapon," he said. The Iran deal is the result of not being willing to leave the bargaining table, Trump reasoned. "When the other side knows you're not going to walk, it becomes absolutely impossible to win," he said. Trump justified his view by pointing to Vice President Joe Biden's recent criticism of Israel before saying, "President Obama has not been a friend to Israel."
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 27, 2016
Even further, Trump said, "our rivals no longer respect us." For example, he said, "When Obama landed in Cuba, no leader was there to greet him." The same thing happened in Saudi Arabia, he said. "It's called no respect," Trump said. "The list of humiliations go on and on and on. President Obama watched helplessly as North Korea increases its aggressions and its nuclear reach. "He has even allowed China to steal government secrets with cyberattacks and engage in industrial espionage," Trump added. "If Obama's goal was to weaken America, he could not have done a finer job," Trump said.
Lastly, America no longer has a clear vision of its foreign goals, Trump said. "We're a humanitarian nation, but the legacy of the Obama/Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray," he said while citing the choices the U.S. has made in the Middle East. "We've done nothing to help the Christians, and for that we should always be ashamed. ... "Our actions there have helped unleash ISIS and we're at war against radical Islam."
Donald Trump says his foreign policy "replaces randomness with purpose, ideology with strategy and chaos with peace" https://t.co/BQ5X4ShvFz
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 27, 2016
Trump spoke hours after coming off a five-state primary sweep Tuesday night, which put him even closer to the Republican presidential nomination. Prior to Wednesday’s speech, Trump’s foreign policy vision primarily consisted of anti-immigration rhetoric, such as building a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep people from illegally entering the country and bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.
He expounded on those views considerably in a New York Times interview, including chastizing the trade relationship the U.S. has with China and how he thought NATO was "obsolete." Trump has also spoken out in favor of some of the torture techniques that the U.S. Department of Defense has condemned.
Acting presidential is something Trump as recently as last Friday characterized as being boring. "You know what, if I was totally presidential, you'd be falling asleep after 20 minutes, okay?" he said during a campaign rally in Delaware.
During his victory speech Tuesday night, he insisted that the only reason Democratic front-runner candidate Hillary Clinton was faring so well in the primary contests was entirely due to her gender.
"I think the only card she has is the woman's card," the billionaire said from his headquarters at Trump Tower. "She has nothing else going. Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she would get five percent of the vote."
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has faced criticism for his foreign policy remarks, but on Wednesday he is hoping to project an image of a man ready to lead the country.
The day after sweeping five Northeastern-state primaries that bring him closer to the nomination, Trump will deliver a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel State Ballroom in Washington at noon. A free live stream of Trump’s speech is available by clicking here or watching below.
President Barack Obama weighed in on Trump’s foreign policy ideas at the beginning of April at the nuclear security summit in Washington. When asked about Trump’s remarks that Japan and South Korea should get nuclear arsenals to protect themselves against North Korea, Obama did not mask his displeasure.
“The person who made the statements doesn’t know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean peninsula, or the world generally,” Obama said, without actually naming Trump. “People pay attention to American elections. What we do is really important to the rest of the world.”
Trump’s foreign policy speech Wednesday is the first in a series meant to bolster his leadership qualities and vision after making many world leaders and foreign policy experts nervous with his past statements. Trump's remarks about banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and building a wall along the Mexican border to keep immigrants out have gained worldwide attention and criticism. Trump ruffled more feathers Monday when he said he wants Persian Gulf states to foot the bill for a safe zone in Syria.
The New York businessman’s campaign said his speech would focus on trade and security, but it remains unclear whether Trump will gear his remarks to a sophisticated Washington policy crowd or invoke some of his notorious campaign language that advocates for an isolationist U.S. that would not pay for the rest of the world’s security, but at the same time would destroy hostile groups like the Islamic State.
“Trade, immigration and security policies are critical concerns of all Americans, and we must develop a clear, consistent long-term foreign policy for making America safe and prosperous,” said a statement from the Trump campaign.
Trump announced his foreign policy advisers last month, led by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. His team includes counterterrorism adviser Walid Phares, energy adviser George Papadopoulos, defense adviser Joe Schmitz, energy and Russia adviser Carter Page and former Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg. One of Trump’s top campaign aides, Paul Manafort, previously worked for deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, among other foreign leaders.