One of the complaints about Donald Trump's presidential candidacy is that he doesn't present detailed plans. On April 27th, he presented his foreign policy "plan" at Washington DC's "Center for the National Interest." It was standard conservative rhetoric. Fleshed out with "Trumpisms." And lies.
In January, Pew Research reported that Americans' top concerns are terrorism and the economy.
On April 27th, Trump presented a three-part plan to deal with terrorism. He addressed ISIS: "Their days are numbered. I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how." When pressed for more details, Trump declined, "We must as a nation be more unpredictable."
Secondly, Trump promised, "We're going to be working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world." He didn't explain how he would accomplish this when he plans to bar Muslims from travel to the US.
Finally, he promised to "stop importing extremism through senseless immigration policies," alleging that, "There are scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism." That's a substantial exaggeration; a February New York Times article reported: "Federal court documents show that at least 14 people who came to the United States as refugees have been arrested on terrorism charges in the last two years."
Trump grossly underestimated the ongoing US effort against ISIS: "We don't blockade, we don't bomb, we don't do anything about it." The Pentagon reported 11,876 strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (16 Americans have died in this effort.)
Finally, he quipped: "ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil." This isn't true. The non-partisan website Fact Check reported: "a senior analyst for Libya with the International Crisis Group, told us that the Islamic State's strategy thus far has largely been to disrupt oil operations in Libya rather than to try and make a profit off of them."
The Economy Trump blamed President Obama for "weakening our economy." However, during this year's State-of-the-Union address, Obama claimed the US, "has the strongest, most durable economy in the world." The non-partisan website Politifact rated Obama's assertion "Mostly True."
Trump blames our supposed economic decline on bad trade deals. "NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the United States and has... literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs." Fact Check reported there are contradictory studies about the effects of NAFTA on employment. In 2015, the Congressional Research Service noted, "NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by its supporters." They described the impact as "relatively modest."
Trump also claimed the President "crippled us" with "a huge trade deficit." However, Fact Check reported the trade deficit has gone down under Obama.
Trump not only wants to "rebuild" the economy, he also wants to "rebuild our military." But it's well established that the US spends more on defense ($596 billion) than the next seven countries combined: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, England, India, France, and Japan.
Multinational agreements Trump promised, "Under my administration, we will never enter America into any agreement that reduces our ability to control our own affairs... no American citizen will ever again feel that their needs come second to the citizens of a foreign country." Trump used NAFTA as an example of an agreement that worked against US citizens.
In previous speeches, Trump had characterized NATO as obsolete. Here, he said, "I will also call for a summit with our NATO allies... we will... discuss a rebalancing of financial commitments." In fact, President Obama has called on NATO partners to "ramp up their military and financial support for the NATO alliance."
Key Relationships Trump called for "improved relations with Russia from a position of strength." He wanted "an easing of tensions" and boasted he could make a deal with Russia. Trump ignores the fact that, in 2014, the US, and our allies, imposed in sanctions on Russia after they invaded Ukraine. The sanctions are working; the Russian economy is staggering. As a result, Russia is cutting its defense budget.
Trump also called for "fixing our relations with China." He noted that the US has "a massive trade deficit with China." Trump failed to acknowledge that the trade deficit has diminished under President Obama.
Trump claimed, "President Obama has not been a friend to Israel." However, in November Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Obama and said he welcomed the, "opportunity to strengthen our friendship, which is strong, and strengthen our alliance, which is strong."
Donald Trump's April 27th foreign policy speech received mixed reviews. Many observers noted the bizarre mixture of jingoism and isolationism. Others commented on Trump's misstatements and distortions. What's most disturbing is that Trump acts as if he does not understand the role the US plays as leader of the free world and, therefore, understates our strengths.