Donald Trump gave a sharp rebuke of neoconservatism in a speech Wednesday, rejecting the notion that America should be involved in “democracy building” overseas.
“Unfortunately, after the Cold War, our foreign policy veered badly off course. We failed to develop a new vision for a new time. In fact, as time went on, our foreign policy began to make less and less sense,” Trump said while delivering a speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. The speech was a rare format for Trump — he had prepared remarks and used teleprompters.
Trump outlined five weaknesses in the current foreign policy of the country: overextended resources, allies who are “free-riders,” allies unsure of they can depend on the U.S, enemies who don’t respect America, and no “clear understanding” of foreign-policy goals.
Trump attacked his likely general election opponent Hillary Clinton in the speech.
“After Secretary Clinton’s failed intervention in Libya, Islamic terrorists in Benghazi took down our consulate and killed our ambassador and three brave Americans. Then, instead of taking charge that night, Hillary Clinton decided to go home and sleep! Incredible,” Trump said.
The New York businessman added, “Clinton blames it all on a video, an excuse that was a total lie. Our Ambassador was murdered and our Secretary of State misled the nation – and by the way, she was not awake to take that call at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
He then offered a three-point strategy for his “new, rational American foreign policy.” The three areas of focus for Trump are a long-term plan to defeat radical Islam, rebuild the military and economy, and construct a foreign policy concentrated on American interests.
Trump provided a non-interventionist view of the quagmire in the Middle East. “Events may require the use of military force. But it’s also a philosophical struggle, like our long struggle in the Cold War,” the business mogul said.
“We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest investment we can make,” Trump said. He then added, “but we will look for savings and spend our money wisely. In this time of mounting debt, not one dollar can be wasted.”
He also spoke about the economy being as relevant to national security.
“We are also going to have to change our trade, immigration and economic policies to make our economy strong again – and to put Americans first again. This will ensure that our own workers, right here in America, get the jobs and higher pay that will grow our tax revenue and increase our economic might as a nation,” Trump said.
During the speech, he spoke of China and Russia building up their militaries but expressed a desire to seek friendships with the two nations.
“We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia and China. We have serious differences with these two nations, and must regard them with open eyes. But we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared interests,” Trump said. He continued to say, “Russia, for instance, has also seen the horror of Islamic terrorism.”
Trump said, “Fixing our relations with China is another important step towards a prosperous century. China respects strength, and by letting them take advantage of us economically, we have lost all of their respect.” “A strong and smart America is an America that will find a better friend in China. We can both benefit or we can both go our separate ways.”
Throughout the primary Trump has differed himself from Republican orthodoxy by heavily criticizing President George W. Bush’s foreign policy. On Wednesday, he continued to promote a non-hawkish perspective on the world.
“I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative. But if America fights, it must fight to win. I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary – and will only do so if we have a plan for victory,” Trump said.
He added, “however, unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are signs of strength.”