As Donald Trump travels further down the path to the Republican nomination, the aspiring chief executive has now pivoted from inter-party squabbling to matters of international significance. Trump’s new emphasis on matters of foreign policy includes the enlistment of a number of expert advisors, along with public comments on America’s relationship with Israel as well as with European allies. While the tone and content of his remarks are decidedly different, they nevertheless follow in the billionaire candidate’s established tradition of inciting controversy and raising concern.
On Tuesday, Donald Trump outlined the key tenets of a potential Trump administration’s foreign policy in a public appearance. Of particular note was the candidate’s take on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as he appeared to suggest that the United States is not well served as a key member of the defensive alliance.
“We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore,” Trump said in comments transcribed by the Washington Post. “NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.”
As noted by NATO’s official site, the organization was formed in 1949 with the signing of the Washington Treaty. The alliance was formed for the “collective defense” of its 12 original member nations, countering the rise of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical force. At present, 28 countries comprise NATO membership. Since its inception, the involvement of the United States has been the cornerstone of NATO’s existence.
Trump later expounded on his comments by adding that he is not of the opinion that the United States should withdraw from NATO altogether, but he maintained that member countries should bear a greater portion of the financial burden with regard to operations. He made similar comments with regard to South Korea’s defensive fortifications.
At the same engagement, Donald Trump identified a number of his foreign policy advisers for the first time, including Senator Jeff Sessions, Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares, and Joseph E. Schmitz. The real estate mogul also expressed admiration for George Schutz, the former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan.
Later in the day on Tuesday, Donald Trump also made his much-anticipated address to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. The candidate backed off on earlier assertions that he would remain “neutral” in the dispute between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people, praising Israel and pledging that he would act to defend “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Although a number of rabbis and Jewish leaders had threatened to large-scale boycott and walk-out with regard to Trump’s AIPAC address, a Time Magazine account indicated that such gestures had little impact on the event. Donald Trump did draw some skeptical laughter from the crowd when he asserted that he had studied the political intricacies of Iran “greater by far than anybody else,” but he ultimately received a standing ovation from the audience after the conclusion of his remarks.
The Trump campaign is likely hoping that their efforts to add more substance to their candidate’s platform will yield results at the ballot box in this week’s primaries. According to Real Clear Politics, rival Ted Cruz is likely to win the Utah caucuses, but Donald Trump is heavily favored in Arizona.
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