Trump vows to be a ‘friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East’
NEW YORK // Donald Trump has laid out a US blueprint for defeating global terrorism in partnership with Nato and Middle East allies, demanding extreme restrictions on immigration and likening the fight to the Cold War.
The Republican nominee, who is tanking in the polls following weeks of self-inflicted disasters, made his pitch to be a security strongman as the Democratic vice president accused him of imperilling the lives of Americans.
“We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism just as we have defeated every threat we faced at every age,” said Mr Trump on Monday in Ohio, a battleground state considered essential to winning the US presidential election.
His foreign policy address marked the latest attempt by the Trump campaign to get their maverick candidate back on message as his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton surges ahead in the polls.
Watering down his highly contested assertion that Barack Obama and Mrs Clinton created ISIL, Mr Trump said the extremist group was “the direct result of policy decisions” made by the president and former secretary of state, referencing chaos in Iraq and Libya.
He claimed that ISIL, which is the target of US-led air strikes and special forces operations in Iraq and Syria, was “fully operational” in 18 countries and had “aspiring branches in six more”.
The real-estate tycoon and former reality TV star promised to end the US policy of “nation building” and called for a “new approach” in partnership with foreign allies to “halt the spread of radical Islam”.
Mr Trump vowed to work “very closely” with Nato, sidestepping previous criticism of the alliance after saying that a Trump presidency would not automatically leap to members’ defence.
“I have previously said Nato was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism. Since my comments, they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats, very good,” he said.
Mr Trump also said he believed the United States could find “common ground with Russia” in the fight against the ISIL – a claim bound to do little to silence critics who accuse him of being soft on Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He said his administration would “aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS”, and be a “friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East”.
At home, meanwhile, he demanded new immigration screening, saying that the perpetrators of a series of attacks in the United States – including the 9/11 hijackings, the 2013 Boston bombings and the recent mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub – involved “immigrants or the children of immigrants”.
“We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” he said, promising to temporarily suspend immigration from “the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world” that export terrorism.
* Agence France-Presse
Updated: August 16, 2016 04:00 AM