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10 Quotes from Donald Trump’s Anti-Immigration Foreign Policy Speech That Don't Add Up

First Posted: Aug 22, 2016 09:19 AM EDT
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Donald Trump(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's foreign policy speech last Monday had very slim chances of winning over liberals and left-leaning moderates, but there was hope the Republican presidential candidate would gain traction with on-the-fence voters.

The goal was to divert attention from his call to take Second Amendment action against Hillary Clinton and repeated claims that Clinton and President Obama created ISIS. This would be Trump's pivot to a presidential message; one focused on national security and strategic ways of defeating global terrorism.

Focused it was. Only it focused on causation while providing little correlation, or detailed solutions.

Trump justifiably attacked the Obama administration's Middle East role ahead of the Arab Spring, and he correctly referenced honor killings terrorist organizations embrace, but both predate Obama's presidency. While a case can be made that Obama had missteps, including the administration's handling the 2012 U.S. embassy attack in Benghazi, Trump openly supported many of the administration's efforts at the time.

"It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama's global 'Apology Tour," Trump said, before outlining specific - yet insubstantive - anti-terrorism proposals.

Here's a look at 10 of Trump's more questionable foreign policy speech statements.

"If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam."

The U.S. did nation-build in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it ended some five years ago when a majority of American troops left following the Iraq War. The strategy now is less about instilling democracy than fighting terrorist organizations.

The Pentagon deployed an additional 560 troops to Iraq last month, bringing the total number of boots on the ground near 4,647, along with troops deployed on temporary assignment.

"I was an opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning - a major difference between me and my opponent. So I have been clear for a long time that we should not have gone in."

Trump's 2002 interview with Howard Stern, when Trump says "yeah, I guess so" to supporting the war, is a vague response that should not be taken as his definitive stance.

His interview with Fox Business News anchor Neil Cavuto a year later gave more context.

"Well, (George Bush) has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps shouldn't be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations," Trump said. "He's under a lot of pressure. He's - I think he's doing a very good job."

"I have long said that we should have kept the oil in Iraq - another area where my judgement has been proven correct...If we had controlled the oil, we could have prevented the rise of ISIS in Iraq."

Here, Trump says the U.S. should have prevented insurgents from taking Iraq's oil. His beliefs fall in line with the Bush administration's when troops were specifically sent to protect oil fields. The interest isn't in taking Iraq's oil but in assuring U.S.-based oil companies wells are secure.

ISIS reportedly makes $500 million a year selling oil on the black market. Less-savvy terrorist groups are funded by wealthy donors, sometimes referred to as "angel investors," who provide seed money for oil smuggling, travel, and weaponry.

Trump's claim isn't completely baseless, but its likely ISIS would have received funding another way.

"I had previously said that 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."

Last month, New York Times chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger asked Trump about NATO and whether he would aid affiliated countries. Trump said "if they fulfill their obligation to us, the answer is yes."

Every presidential nominee since its inception in 1949 supported NATO. It is what prevented feeble nations from being strong-armed following World War II and prevented the spread of communism during the Cold War. The coalition may play a bigger role soon enough, if Russia President Vladimir Putin continues making allies across the Middle East.

Coincidentally, NATO did announce a new position recently, though it had nothing to do with Trump's comments.

A NATO official told POLITICO the new assistant secretary general for intelligence position was considered for years "to deal with threats such as hybrid warfare."

"I also believe that we could find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS. They have too much at stake in the outcome of Syria, and have had their own battles with Islamic terrorism."

Trump's affinity for Putin makes Republican lawmakers worry, once predicting he and the Russian leader "will get along very well."

Based on Trump's campaign advisors, the relationship may already have blossomed. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort previously consulted the Ukraine's ruling political party and former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych.

A New York Times investigation found handwritten ledgers with Manafort's name next to $12.7 million cash payments. Anti-corruption officials Yanukovych's inner circle may have laundered money to offshore accounts and funded the purchase of a cable television network.

Manafort worked with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska on the television deal. Deripaska, according to the Times, is closely associated to Putin.

On Sunday, Ivana Trump was seen vacationing with Wendi Deng Murdoch, who is rumored to be dating Putin. Ivanka and Murdoch's relationship has nothing to do with the presidential election, but it may encourage decisions a President Trump makes with Russia.

"We cannot allow the internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy. We must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately."

If software developers and social media companies ban individuals with terrorist ties those individuals simply open new accounts using pseudonyms and fake email addresses. Or they download new messenger apps.

When the Patriot Act was revised last summer, Nationals Security Agency officials lost the ability to wiretap phones and collect telephone records. What they can arguably and hypothetically do is access anyone's Facebook and Twitter accounts. If so, it would be a counterterrorism tool aimed at terrorism suspects that ultimately infringes upon a person's right to privacy.

To shut down the internet for one person means shutting it down for all.

"The common thread linking the major Islamic terrorist attacks that have recently occurred on our soil...is that they have involved immigrants or the children of immigrants. Clearly, new screening procedures are needed."

Trump used the term "extreme vetting" when discussing his anti-immigration proposal. Vetting immigrants is a long-held American tradition, from colonial-era ideals denying poor arrivals to the 1917 Immigration Act - which discriminated against Asians - to modern green card applications.

The difference between Trump's proposal and the 1917 Immigration Act is that Trump specifically cites children as a threat.

Undocumented individuals undergo a throughout screening process, as the White House detailed last November. They are screened by four different government agencies, interviewed by Department of Homeland Security officials, and re-interviewed if their information doesn't check out.

The process can take up to 24 months. Even then, the 50 percent of applicants who pass the screening process aren't guaranteed entry. For her part, Clinton has proposed an increase of 55,000 refugees a year, on top of some 100,000 arriving in fiscal year 2017.

"We must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law."

Trump's "extreme vetting" process includes an ideological test that may or may not discriminate based on an immigrant's heritage.

It all depends on what Trump defines as "principles."

Federal immigration law allows the president to deny entry to undocumented individuals who could be a detriment to American interests. As a Yale Law School professor told ABC News, "This authority has never been used in the way Trump suggests, and it is so broad that the Supreme Court would likely subject it to some constitutional limitations."

"To put these new procedures in place, we will temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism."

Trump's campaign kicked off with a statement calling Mexicans "criminals". He proposed a policy blocking Muslims from entering the country, regardless of their U.S. citizenship status. In his speech Monday, Trump proposed suspending immigration from countries with "a history of exporting terrorism."

France and Germany would be banned. Latin America, which was the epicenter for terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s would also be denied. Colombia, for example, is home to both the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). El Salvador has the Farbundo Marti National Liberation Front. Peru has the Shining Path, a longstanding communist party.

"Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country."

No one will argue against newcomers embracing American principles and adhering to American laws, but Trump's entire campaign is based on excluding outsiders.

Trump accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of being biased against him because Curiel has Mexican roots. He still backs surveillance of mosques as an anti-terrorism measure. When Gold Star mother Humayun Khan silently stood behind her Muslim husband, Trump suggested it was because she wasn't allowed to speak.

Trump concluded his 46-minute speech by saying he was hopeful the Muslim community would work with him "to build bridges and erase division."

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