Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave a foreign policy speech at Youngstown, Ohio on Monday that called for “extreme” vetting of immigrants and blamed recent instability in the Middle East on past foreign policies from the Obama administration.
Using a teleprompter in a heavily scripted speech titled, “Understanding The Threat: Radical Islam And The Age Of Terror” Donald Trump recalled how the United States defeated fascism, nazism, and communism during the 20th century and then admitted radical Islamic terrorism is a new threat challenging our world.
Citing a long list of ISIS terrorist attacks in the West, including recent deadly shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino, Trump pointed out that overseas ISIS “carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another.”
“We cannot let this evil continue” he said.
Trump emphasized that we can’t allow the hateful ideology of radical Islam be allowed to reside or spread within our own countries and then swiftly changed course and gave stinging critiques of President Obama’s foreign policies in the Middle East, culminating in his final conclusion, “the rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.”
Last week, Trump caused a firestorm of controversy after he falsely claimed that Obama was the “founder” of ISIS and insisted Clinton was the “co-founder.”
Trump later sent out a series of confusing mixed messages about the thorny topic that annoyed a host of Republicans and rattled Democrats.
Trump tweeted that his founder comment was “sarcasm” but in other venues he doubled down on the controversial statement and insisted that it is true.
Absent from Trump’s ISIS speech from Youngstown on Monday was any mention of who founded ISIS.
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden said on Monday in Scranton, Pennsylvania during Hilary Clinton’s campaign rally that Donald Trump is unprepared to handle America’s national security.
“I can say without hesitation, no major party nominee in the history of the United States of America was no less prepared to deal with your national security than Donald Trump” Biden said.
Rosy Picture Of Middle East Before Obama Administration
Donald Trump waded into a hornets nest of foreign policy issues during his Monday speech when he offered a rosy perspective of the Middle East at the beginning of 2009 before the Obama-Clinton administration took over for former Republican President George W. Bush who alienated the U.S. internationally after leading the U.S. and a coalition of countries to invade Iraq and overthrow Sunni Iraqi President Sadaam Hussein on the false premise that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was enriching plutonium to develop a nuclear weapon.
“Libya was stable. Syria was under control” Trump said.
Trump claimed Iraq was experiencing a reduction in violence and the group what we now call ISIS was “close to being extinguished,” an assessment cited from a Fox News report of Army Chief Odierno during an exit interview, a Wilson Center article written by Cameron Glenn, and an article from David Ignatius of the Atlantic, according to Trump’s website.
It was Republican President George W. Bush who authorized the Status Of Forces Agreement in 2008, allowing for all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
President Barack Obama followed through with the agreement guidelines during his presidency which permitted the complete U.S. military withdrawal in 2011.
A majority of Iraqis wanted U.S military to pull out of Iraq by 2011 and an overwhelming majority of Americans supported the full military withdrawal based on polls.
The power vacuum in Iraq eventually led to the rise of ISIS across Iraq and territories in Northeast Syria but the underlying inspiration for the rise of ISIS across the Middle East had little to do with waging terror on the West and was instead focused on battling Shia power grabs in the Iraqi government as well as the Alawite government in Syria which has strong historical alliances with Shia Iran.
Trump Falsely Claimed He ‘Always’ Opposed The Iraq War
Trump declared in his speech, “I was an opponent of the Iraq war from the beginning – a major difference between me and my opponent,” in reference to Democratic presidential nominee Hilary Clinton who voted for the Iraq intervention as a senator.
However, Buzzfeed noted, Donald Trump voiced his support for the Iraq War during a 2002 interview with Howard Stern when he was asked if he was for invading Iraq.
“Yeah I guess so” Trump told Stern. “I wish the first time it was done correctly” Trump added.
During his Monday foreign policy speech, Trump said that the U.S. should have kept the oil in Iraq, a move that would have likely raised some concerns about U.S. intentions for invading the sovereign country of Iraq.
“If we had controlled the oil, we could have prevented the rise of ISIS in Iraq – both by cutting off a major source of funding, and through the presence of U.S. forces necessary to safeguard the oil and other vital infrastructure. I was saying this constantly and to whoever would listen: keep the oil, keep the oil, keep the oil, I said – don’t let someone else get it” Trump explained.
Trump said, “In the old days, when we won a war, to the victor belonged the spoils.”
Trump Offers Battle Plan For Dealing With ISIS, Al Qaeda
Trump spelled out a multi-layered approach towards handling ISIS that includes aggressively pursuing joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting.
According to Trump’s foreign policy statements on Monday, the fight will not be limited to ISIS.
“We will decimate Al Qaeda, and we will seek to starve funding for Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah. We can use existing UN Security Council resolutions to apply new sanctions” Trump said.
Although Trump offended many Muslims across the world by calling for a temporary ban of Muslims entering the U.S., he said in his speech that his administration will “be a friend” to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East and “will amplify their voices.”
New Screening Procedure And Temporary Immigration Ban From Designated Danger Zones
Trump maintained that new screening procedures and a new immigration policy are needed in the U.S.
Trump advocated for a “clear principle” governing all decisions related to immigration and said, “we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.”
Trump spoke about a return to a cold war era treatment of U.S. enemies from other countries that don’t share America’s values, including an “ideology” screening test.
“In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
Although Trump has been called bigoted and racist over past inflammatory statements about Mexican immigrants on the campaign trail, his reluctance to disavow David Duke’s presidential endorsement, and calls for a temporary Muslim ban, he admitted during his speech on Monday, ” Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country.”
Trump offered a controversial approach about executing his new immigration policies.
Trump explained that to put these measures into action, “we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
Calling for a temporary immigration suspension from the “most dangerous and volatile regions of the world” makes little practical, legal, and logistical sense in a world where home grown terrorism is already a growing reality and surfaced during recent terror attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, in addition to terror attacks across France and other western European countries where ISIS is established.
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures” Trump said.
Trump explained that only those “who we expect to flourish” in our country and to embrace a tolerant American society should be issued immigration visas.
Offering a religion or ideology test by a U.S. government would likely raise some eyebrows and come under heavy criticism.
Roughly ten percent of the French population is Muslim.
Under Trump’s immigration proposal, a country such as Afghanistan with a clear terrorist history could have some problems receiving U.S. visas but a country like France which is secular wouldn’t be denied.
However, if a radicalized French Muslim gains entry to the U.S. based on Trump’s immigration policy, he/she could also unleash terrorism which clearly shows that screening for terrorism is a complicated task and can’t be codified and packaged based exclusively on a list of “dangerous” regions.