Here Are The 5 Best Quotes From Donald Trump's Interview With 'The New York Times' On Foreign Policy
Donald Trump's foreign policy can essentially be summed up by his campaign slogan: "Make America great again." The Republican candidate rarely offers concrete details on his nationalist and isolationist point of view, despite the best efforts of debate moderators, other candidates, and newspaper editorial boards. The Washington Post gave it their best shot, pressing the candidate for details on how he would handle ISIS without much luck. That interview, apparently, didn't deter The New York Times from taking a chance with the evasive candidate. During two separate phone calls on Friday, Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger of The New York Times interviewed Donald Trump about his foreign policy positions. The paper published the edited transcript online Saturday, and Haberman and Sanger were at least able to draw something out of the mogul.
Well, sorta. Trump is a hard nut to crack — possibly because he's super guarded about his tactics, or, more likely, there isn't much to be found beneath the surface. Despite the Gray Lady's attempts, there weren't any earth-shattering realizations, even with wide-ranging topics ranging from nuclear warfare to defeating ISIS to NATO. Here are a few of the highlights, though, because you know that if there is one thing to count on with Trump, it's a good line or two:
On Nuclear Arms
Haberman noted that, throughout the campaign, Trump has said that he wants the United States to be more "unpredictable." She asked Trump if he would be willing to strike first with nuclear force, to which he responded.
An absolute last step. ... I personally think it's the biggest problem the world has, nuclear capability. I think it's the single biggest problem. When people talk global warming, I say the global warming that we have to be careful of is the nuclear global warming.
So maybe that it's that he doesn't actually want the United States to use nuclear capabilities, but just make the rest of the world think we will. Ultimately, he concluded that he wouldn't want our military to be the first to strike.
On The Middle East
Trump aimed criticism about the war in Iraq not on President George W. Bush, who got the United States into the war, but on President Barack Obama's handling of it once he took office. Trump said that, compared to 15 years ago, the country's relationship with the Middle East today has deteriorated. He then offered an, er, interesting view on what should've happened instead:
... And I say this, if our presidents would have just gone to the beach and enjoyed the ocean and the sun, we would've been much better off in the Middle East, than all of this tremendous death, destruction, and you know, monetary loss, it's just incredible.
I mean, sure. Going to the beach does sound way better than going to war. I also have a feeling it was a far more nuanced decision between a day in the sun and a decade of war.
On Other Countries Paying Up
When pressed about his feelings on putting troops on the ground to fight ISIS, Trump emphasized that other countries must contribute to the cost. He went as far as to say that, without U.S. funds, Saudi Arabia would cease to exist, and that we need to expect the country to reimburse our poor country if we're going to send in the military.
We're a debtor nation. We can't be a debtor nation. I don't want to be a debtor nation. I want it to be the other way. One of the reasons we're a debtor nation, we spend so much on the military, but the military isn't for us.
His talk of not being a policeman for the world, by the way, sounded downright Bernie Sanders-esque. Still, it doesn't seem like he's concerned for the same reasons.
Trump On Trump
Presented without context, because do you really even need it?
Well I said something a few days ago and I was vastly criticized and I notice now this morning, people are saying Donald Trump is a genius. Because what I said — which of course is always nice to hear, David.
On "America First"
Trump summed up his foreign policy position as "America First," meaning that we will take care of our own before helping out the rest of the world. This feeds into his idea that we spend too much of our military budget helping out other people, with little return on investment (you know, save for a good conscience or being decent human beings). Trump thinks that, with him in the White House, we'll stop being taken advantage of:
We will not be ripped off anymore. We're going to be friendly with everybody, but we're not going to be taken advantage of by anybody.
In short, America will be winners again, at long last.