In a lengthy interview with the New York Times, Donald Trump articulates his foreign policy principles: not isolationist, but other nations will have to pay for the the benefits of U.S. military protection.
Trump has offered the least aggressive foreign policy platform among Republicans, which has drawn accusations of “isolationism,” a label he rejects.
“I’m not isolationist, but I am ‘America First,'” Trump told the Times. “We have been disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many, many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher.”
Trump said that the United States, saddled with $21 trillion in debt, was being ripped off by everyone, from “China to Japan to South Korea to the Middle East,” singling out Saudi Arabia as a U.S. client which has failed to return the favor for American munificence.
“They’re sitting with trillions of dollars,” Trump said. “We’re paying leases, we’re paying rent? O.K.? To have bases over there? The whole thing is preposterous.”
The United Nations was also the object of Trump’s ire, as was NATO, which Trump said was “outdated,” and that countries closer to Ukraine, such as Germany, should do more to defend it from Russia.
In the course of castigating existing U.S. foreign policy, Trump played coy on what he would specifically do as president, arguing that it’s strategic to keep your options open for negotiating purposes.
“Would I go to war [over islands in the South China Sea]?” Trump said. “I don’t want to say I won’t or I will. … That’s the problem with our country. A politician would say, ‘Oh I would never go to war,’ or they’d say, ‘Oh I would go to war.’ I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability.”
Trump also took the opportunity to bring up his prescience about the Brussels attack. In January, Trump was criticized for calling Brussels a “hellhole” infested with radical Islamists.