(CN) – Donald Trump on Monday delivered his most extended foreign policy speech to date, vowing to “extinguish” the “ideology of death” espoused by Islamic State and other terrorists, and to impose a new ideological test for immigrants wishing to enter the United States.
“Our country has enough problems, we don’t need anymore” the GOP presidential candidate said after unveiling his plan for the “extreme vetting” of immigrants seeking admission to the United States to root out those who sympathize with extremist groups or don’t embrace American values.
Trump’s proposal, which calls for a thorough debriefing of applicants on their beliefs regarding gender equality, gay rights and religious freedom, would be a significant change in how entry into the United States is managed.
He said the policy would first require a temporary halt in immigration from dangerous regions of the world.
But the candidate, clearly sticking to a carefully prepared script as he spoke a large and vocal crowd in Youngstown, Ohio Monday, did not stop there.
Trump pledged to set in motion a new era “foreign policy realism” that’s aim will be to “defeat radical Islamic terrorism, just as we’ve defeated every foe our nation has faced in its history.”
He said in a Trump administration, the United States will work with “any country that shares the goal of destroying radical Islamic terrorists.”
“We will work side by side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally in the region, Israel,” Trump said, before also name-checking Jordan and Egypt, and in something of a surprise, he also outlined a role for NATO, an organization he had previously talked of dismantling.
Trump explained his change in the tone on NATO by claiming the organization had been become more engaged in intelligence gathering since his earlier, withering comments.
Moreover, Trump said he’s willing and eager to work with any nation intent on destroying Islamic State regardless of disagreements the US might have with them on other issues.
“Any country that shares this goal will be our allies,” Trump said. “We can never choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.”
He went on to say he would keep the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay open, continue drone strikes overseas, try foreign combatants with military commission, and also pursue the capture of “high value targets” so they can be interrogated for ‘high-value intelligence.”
Trump also said, “If I become president, the era of nation-building will be brought to a swift end.”
But while the candidate spoke in a serious, highly deliberate cadence, he policies for actually defeating the Islamic State group and ending the threat it currently posses in countries like France and Germany remained vague, mostly coming down to holding an “international meeting.”
About an hour prior to Trump’s address, his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden challenged Trump’s fitness to be president and his preparedness to be commander in chief during a campaign stop in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Biden called Trump’s views are “dangerous” and “un-American” and warned that Trump’s the GOP candidate’s false assertions last week that President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State could be used by extremists to target American service members in Iraq.
The vice president went on to say Trump is “unqualified” to be president, arguing he lacks any kind of foreign policy experience or interest to learn about international challenges.
If Trump had been president, Biden says he would have urged his late son, Beau, not to serve in the military because Trump would not be a trustworthy leader.
Biden also couldn’t resist tweaking Trump for past praise the billionaire real estate developer has heaped on Russian President Vladimir Putin and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, suggesting that if Trump likes them, “he would have loved” Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953 and executioner of more than 1 million people through political purges and mass starvation.
As for Clinton, he knocked Trump for having previously said he prefers to keep his foreign policy proposals secret in order to catch enemies by surprise.
“Then it turns out the secret is he has no plan,” she said.
But all that was before Trump spoke. Afterward, the Senate’s Democratic leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada said Trump couldn’t even pass his own test for admission into the country.
“Immigrants make America great. Trump makes America small, petty and mean,” Reid said.
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