General Principles

Mr Trump’s priorities are domestic, and he has repeatedly stated that the United States needs to turn its focus to the problems it has at home. “I know the outer world exists, and I'll be very cognisant of that, but at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially in the inner cities,” he has said. "“Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

“We cannot be the policeman of the world,” he says. This theme appears to underpin his position on most international issues: that America is both broken and broke, and can no longer afford to defend, fund, or otherwise assist other countries, who must now look after their own interests. America must ‘wise up’ and stop allowing other countries to take advantage of what he sees as America’s naïve generosity over the past century.

He has said that he is willing to reconsider traditional American alliances if partners are not willing to pay, in cash or troop commitments, for the presence of American forces around the world. “We will not be ripped off any more,” he says.

Mr Trump emphasizes the importance of “unpredictability” for an American president, arguing that the country’s traditions of democracy and openness has made its actions too easy for adversaries and allies alike to foresee.

Japan, South Korea, North Korea

Japanese and South Korean officials should contribute more to the cost of keeping US troops stationed in their countries. If they don’t, says Trump, he would consider bringing the troops home.

“Well, you know, at some point, there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this any more. And, I know the upsides and the downsides. But right now we’re protecting, we’re basically protecting Japan, and we are, every time North Korea raises its head, you know, we get calls from Japan and we get calls from everybody else, and “Do something.” And there’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore. Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear. It’s a very scary nuclear world. Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation. At the same time, you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have money. You know, when we did these deals, we were a rich country. We’re not a rich country. We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We’re not any more. We have a military that’s severely depleted. We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape. They don’t even know if they work. We’re not the same country.”

Mr. Trump has said that he would be open to negotiating directly with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un — a move that would break from the last thirty years of American diplomacy. “I would speak to him,” Mr. Trump has declared. “I would have no problem speaking to him.”

He has also said he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear arsenals rather than depend on the American nuclear umbrella for their protection against North Korea and China. If the United States “keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway, with or without me discussing it,” Mr Trump says.

And he has said he would be willing to withdraw United States forces from both Japan and South Korea if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding those troops. “Not happily, but the answer is yes,” he says.

Mr Trump has also said he would seek to renegotiate many fundamental treaties with American allies, possibly including a 56-year-old security pact with Japan, which he has described as one-sided.


“We have tremendous economic power over China,” he has argued. “And that’s the power of trade.” He has not mentioned the possibility of economic retaliation from China.

Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised China since the start of his candidature, describing it as one of America's top adversaries, particularly when it comes to economic policy. Mr Trump says he would label China a currency manipulator, crack down on hacking, and threaten the Chinese government with steep tariffs if it doesn’t agree to rewrite trade agreements.

He would also expand the US’s military presence in the South China Sea as a deterrent to China’s territorial claims to artificial islands there. He has said he would toughen rules against the theft of intellectual property and combat subsidies China offers to boost exports. He opposes the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement which includes the US, Japan and 10 other countries.

Middle East

If elected, Trump has said he might halt purchases of oil from Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies unless they commit ground troops to the fight against the Islamic State or “substantially reimburse” the United States for combating the group, which threatens their stability.

“…we’re not being reimbursed for the kind of tremendous service that we’re performing by protecting various countries. Now Saudi Arabia’s one of them. I think if Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection of our country’s, of US protection, think of Saudi Arabia. I don’t think it would be around. It would be, whether it was internal or external, it wouldn’t be around for very long. And they’re a money machine, they’re a monetary machine, and yet they don’t reimburse us the way we should be reimbursed. So that’s a real problem. And frankly, I think it’s a real, in terms of bringing our country back, because our country’s a poor country. Our country is a debtor nation, we’re a debtor nation. I mean, we owe trillions of dollars to people that are buying our bonds, in the form of other countries. You look at China, where we owe them $1.7 trillion, you have Japan, $1.5 trillion. 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. The military is to be policeman for other countries. And to watch over other countries. And there comes a point that, and many of these countries are tremendously rich countries. Not powerful countries, but – in some cases they are powerful – but rich countries.”

As regards the deployment of ground troops in Syria, Americans have “no choice”, said Trump in a debate in March, stating that they must deploy 20,000-30,000 troops to Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State group (IS). However, in a later Washington Post interview, he said he didn't mean what he said - not exactly. He said if the US decided to send troops to Syria, he'd want other countries to participate in the undertaking.

Mr Trump has been critical of President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, saying it helped unleash a wave of instability in the Middle East that continues to sow chaos. Mr Trump has said he opposed the invasion at the time, though critics have said his position on the matter wasn’t clear-cut. He hasn’t specified what he would do to improve the situation in Iraq, though he has spoken frequently about working more closely with the Kurds and has described himself as "a fan of the Kurds".

“Take the oil”

Mr Trump has argued on several occasions that when US forces left Iraq, they should have “taken the oil” and that this is still necessary. However, when it was pointed out to him in an interview that this would involve putting US troops on the ground in Iraq, he responded: “Yeah, yeah, O.K.. Ready? I said take the oil. I’ve been saying that for years. And many very smart scholars and military scholars said that’d be a great thing to do, but people didn’t do it. So, but I have been saying that for years, I’m glad you know that. At least four or five years. When we left I said take the oil. We shouldn’t have been there, we shouldn’t have destroyed the country, and Saddam Hussein was a bad guy but he was good at one thing: Killing terrorists. He killed terrorists like nobody, all right? Now it’s Harvard of terrorism. You want to be a terrorist you go to Iraq. But he killed terrorists. O.K., so we destroyed that. By the way, bad guy, just so you know, officially, I want to say that, bad guy, but it was a lot better of situation than we have right now. And he did not knock down the World Trade Center, O.K.? So officially speaking, he did not, Iraq did not knock down the World Trade center. We went in there after the World Trade Center, well he didn’t knock down the World Trade Center, so you could say why are we doing this, all right, that was another thing. I never felt that he did it, and it turned out that he didn’t. And it’ll be very interesting when those documents [the House and Senate report] are opened up and released in the future, I think maybe they should be opened up and released sooner rather than later … it’d be very interesting to see because they must know. They must know, if they’re anything, they must know what happened in terms of who were the people. But it wasn’t Iraq, O.K.? You’re not going to find that it was Iraq. So it was very faulty, but I was, I was talking about, I was talking about taking the oil, now we have a different situation because now we have to go in again and start fighting, you know, at that time we had it and we should’ve kept it. Now I would say knock the hell out of the oil and do it because it’s a primary source of money for ISIS … Well now, we have to destroy the oil. We should’ve taken it and we would’ve have it. Now we have to destroy the oil. We don’t do it, I just can’t believe we don’t do it.”


“The Palestinians must come to the table, knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely and totally unbreakable,” Mr Trump has said. “They must come to the table willing and able to stop the terror being committed on a daily basis against Israel.”

Mr Trump has advocated for more US support for Israel, and worked to build bridges with Tel Aviv by slamming the nuclear deal with Iran. He made some in Israel nervous when he said he would work to remain neutral in any peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He later softened his position, saying it would be very difficult to remain neutral. In March, he gave a speech to a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., that helped to assuage some of their concerns about his commitment to their views. In his convention speech in Cleveland, he called Israel “our greatest ally in the region.”

“I would use trade to negotiate. Would I go to war? Look, let me just tell you. There’s a question I wouldn’t want to answer. Because I don’t want to say I won’t or I will or – do you understand that? That’s the problem with our country. A politician would say, ‘Oh I would never go to war,’ or they’d say, ‘Oh I would go to war.’ I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability. You know, if I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’ve said I would or I wouldn’t. I don’t want them to know what I’m thinking. The problem we have is that, maybe because it’s a democracy and maybe because we have to be so open – maybe because you have to say what you have to say in order to get elected – who knows? But I wouldn’t want to say. I wouldn’t want them to know what my real thinking is. But I will tell you this. This is the one aspect I can tell you. I would use trade, absolutely, as a bargaining chip.”


Trump has said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “bad,” but has stopped short of calling for him to be removed from office. A key part of his Syria strategy appears to be giving Russia more flexibility to stabilize the region, as he has said that Moscow is better positioned to influence changes there than the US, and they share a common enemy in ISIS.


Mr Trump views the United States as a weakened power, and the main mechanism by which he would re-establish its central role in the world is economic bargaining. He approaches international conflicts through the prism of a negotiation, although he is often imprecise about the strategic goals he seeks. He has criticised the Obama administration’s handling of the negotiations with Iran last year — “It would have been so much better if they had walked away a few times,” he said — but offered only one new idea about how he would change its content: ban Iran’s trade with North Korea.

Mr Trump has been highly critical of the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, saying the US allowed Iran to access $150 billion in money that had been frozen. He has added that the White House received few concessions as part of the deal. He has proposed renegotiating the nuclear deal, though it’s unclear exactly how he would structure any agreement. He has called for doubling and tripling the sanctions the US had historically placed on Iran as a way to force them toward more concessions. He has said he would “dismantle” the deal, but aides have said he would only seek to refine it.

“It’s not just that it’s a bad deal,” he has said, “it’s a deal that could’ve been so much better just if they’d walked a couple of times. They negotiated so badly. They were being mocked, they were being scorned, they were being harassed, our negotiators, including Kerry, back in Iran, by the various representatives and the leaders of Iran at the highest level. And they never walked. They should’ve walked, doubled up the sanctions, and made a good deal. Gotten the prisoners out long before, not just after they gave the $150 billion. They should’ve never given the money back. There were so many things that were done, they were so, the negotiation was, and I think deals are fine, I think they’re good, not bad. But, you gotta make good deals, not bad deals. This deal was a disaster.”


Mr Trump has voiced support for Brexit, saying in one interview: “I think the migration has been a horrible thing for Europe … a lot of that was pushed by the EU. I would say that they’re better off without it, personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation. Just my feeling. … I know Great Britain very well. I know, you know, the country very well. I have a lot of investments there. I would say that they’re better off without it. But I want them to make their own decision.”

He has stated that the European Union was created in order to “… beat the United States when it comes to making money … the reason that it got together was like a consortium so that it could compete with the US”.

Mr Trump was not impressed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s handling of the migrant crisis: “Germany is being destroyed by Merkel’s naïveté, or worse,” he said, remarking that Germany has been brought to its knees after agreeing to become a safe haven for all refugees. In a US radio interview, Mr Trump said: “I think for Merkel to have allowed millions of people into Germany… and Germany is totally destabilised now. I don’t believe it’ll ever be the same, maybe in 200 years but it’ll never be the same and Germany of all countries, I cannot believe they allowed this to happen.”


Of Russia, Mr Trump has said in a recent news conference: “I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia—from a position of strength only—is possible, absolutely possible. Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.” At the same news conference, Mr Trump also appeared to leave the door open to accepting Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago — which the United States and its European allies consider an illegal seizure of territory. When asked whether he would recognize Crimea “as Russian territory” and lift the sanctions, Mr Trump said: “We’ll be looking at that. Yeah, we’ll be looking.”

Mr Trump’s apparent willingness to avoid condemning Mr Putin’s government is a notable departure from United States policy and Republican Party orthodoxy, and has fuelled questions about Russian meddling in the campaign. Mr Trump has denied that, saying at the news conference that he has never met Mr Putin, and has no investments in Russia.


A keystone of Mr Trump’s foreign policy is his promise to build a 1,000 mile wall between the United States and Mexico, and to oblige Mexico to foot the bill. “When I talked about Mexico and I talked about they will build a wall, when you look at the trade deficit we have with Mexico it’s very easy, it’s a tiny fraction of what the cost of the wall is. The wall is a tiny fraction of what the cost of the deficit is. When people hear that they say “Oh now I get it.” They don’t get it. But Mexico will pay for the wall.”

He wants to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and has also proposed deporting the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants believed to be currently living in the US and enhancing penalties for people who overstay visas.

He has called for ending “birthright citizenship,” the legal process for granting citizenship to anyone born in the US Mr Trump has said he will overturn the North American Free Trade Agreement, in part because he believes Mexico is using it to build a huge trade surplus against the US

Mr Trump’s campaign website makes the following statements: “Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change. Here are the three core principles of real immigration reform:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

“For many years, Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country (as well as in other Latin American countries). They have even published pamphlets on how to illegally immigrate to the United States…

“Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages; increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats (and if necessary cancel them); increase fees on all border crossing cards – of which we issue about 1 million to Mexican nationals each year (a major source of visa overstays); increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico (another major source of overstays); and increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico [Tariffs and foreign aid cuts are also options].”


Mr Trump struck similar themes when he discussed the future of NATO, which he called “unfair, economically, to us,” and said he was open to an alternative organization focused on counterterrorism.

“I have two problems with NATO. No. 1, it’s obsolete. When NATO was formed many decades ago we were a different country. There was a different threat. Soviet Union was the Soviet Union, not Russia, which was much bigger than Russia, as you know. And, it was certainly much more powerful than even today’s Russia, although again you go back into the weaponry. But, but – I said, I think NATO is obsolete, and I think that – because I don’t think – right now we don’t have somebody looking at terror, and we should be looking at terror. And you may want to add and subtract from NATO in terms of countries. But we have to be looking at terror, because terror today is the big threat. Terror from all different parts. You know in the old days you’d have uniforms and you’d go to war and you’d see who your enemy was, and today we have no idea who the enemy is.”

The UN

“The United Nations, we get nothing out of the United Nations other than good real estate prices. We get nothing out of the United Nations. They don’t respect us, they don’t do what we want, and yet we fund them disproportionately again … The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom. It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where as we all know, it has its home. And it surely isn't a friend to Israel.”

Climate Change

Trump has promised to roll back Obama’s “totalitarian” regulations and withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Trump, who has long denied mainstream climate science, has also said that his administration will focus on “real environmental challenges, not phony ones”. In a 2012 Tweet, Trump stated that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” although he later dismissed this as a joke. But he has frequently referred to climate change as a ‘hoax’. On Jan. 18, 2016, Trump said that climate change “is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change.”

However, Trump has applied for permission to erect a coastal protection works to prevent erosion at his seaside golf resort, Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, in County Clare. A permit application for the wall, filed by Trump International Golf Links Ireland, explicitly cites global warming and its consequences — increased erosion due to rising sea levels and extreme weather this century — as a chief justification for building the structure.


He has suggested that Germany and the Gulf nations should pay for the “safe zones” he wants to set up in Syria for refugees, and for protecting them once built.

Mr Trump has said he won’t give a fully detailed plan to defeat Islamic State because it would take away the element of surprise. But he has said he would “bomb the shit” out of the group’s oil operations. He said it could take 30,000 US troops to defeat ISIS in the Middle East, but he hasn’t committed to deploying a force of that size.

To deal with suspected terrorists, he has proposed changing international rules that forbid the military’s use of torture. He also proposed killing the family members of terrorists to serve as a deterrent to others. He has backed away from some of these comments amid a backlash from some current and former military officials—but not fully.

On NBC's Today show, Trump said he thought individuals suspected of terrorism should be tortured: “If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding.”

Islamic Extremism

In December 2015, days after a husband-and-wife team killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, Mr Trump proposed a “total and complete” ban on the entry of all Muslims into the US until authorities “can figure out what is going on.” The next day, Trump admitted that details “would have to worked out” and said it wouldn’t apply to all Muslims, but remained vague on the timeline or the exemptions. Scholars were divided on whether banning people of an entire faith would violate the constitution.

Mr Trump has said the threats posed by Islamic extremists are too dangerous and that stark new measures must be put in place to protect the country. In early May, Trump told the New York Times the ban would be in place by the end of his first 100 days in office. But on Fox News Radio a few days later, he said that it was “just a suggestion.” A month later, he recommitted to the ban, tweaking it to now encompass immigrants from “nations tied to Islamic terror.” At times he has backed off the blanket ban, suggesting some flexibility. “We’re going to look at a lot of different things,” he said in late May. “We have to be vigilant and we have to be tough and smart.” In July, he said a Trump administration would ban entrants from “terror states and terror nations” and would engage in “extreme vetting” of Muslims seeking to come to the US from other countries, a theme he reiterated in his speech at the Republican National Convention.

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