US Elections 2016

US does not benefit from role in Asia: Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Mr Trump arriving to speak at a conference held by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group, in Washington, DC, on Monday.
Republican presidential candidate Mr Trump arriving to speak at a conference held by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group, in Washington, DC, on Monday.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

He lays out isolationist foreign policy as he unveils advisers, with some from Bush govt

WASHINGTON • White House hopeful Donald Trump has outlined a starkly isolationist foreign policy stance, questioned the cost of US military presence in Asia and named an advisory team drawn from the fringes of Washington's foreign policy establishment.

In an interview with The Washington Post editorial board, Mr Trump raised concern about China's actions in the South China Sea, where it is building bases on disputed reefs and artificial islands.

"We have to be unpredictable," Mr Trump said on the issue, according to the Post.

"We're totally predictable. And predictable is bad."

He said South Korea and Japan should pay more for US protection.

"South Korea is very rich, great industrial country, and yet we're not reimbursed fairly for what we do," Mr Trump told the Post.

Asked by the Post whether the US benefits from its involvement in Asia, he replied: "I don't think so."

He added: "I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we're a poor country now."

He also criticised Germany for not tackling Russian ambitions in Ukraine, warning that Washington's role in Nato had to be scaled back. "We certainly can't afford to do this any more," he said.

Mr Trump named his foreign policy advisers and, despite some of them being associated with President George W. Bush's administration, endorsed a radical retreat from US security commitments overseas.

"I do think it's a different world today, and I don't think we should be nation-building any more," he said, promising to build up the military but to send it to fewer places.

Later, Mr Trump said that he would seek a better relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, rather than confrontation.

On counter-terrorism policy, Mr Trump said he is listening to Professor Walid Phares, whom reports say was once tied to civil war-era Lebanese Christian warlords.

For defence, Mr Trump has turned to retired US Army lieutenant-general Keith Kellogg, chief operating officer in the US occupation of Iraq during its disastrous early months in 2003 and 2004.

Another pick, Mr Joe Schmitz, also served during the Bush administration - as inspector-general to the Pentagon. He co-authored a report entitled "Sharia - the threat to America".

The list is rounded out by energy experts Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, who previously advised Mr Trump's defeated rival, brain surgeon Ben Carson.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Trump: US does not benefit from role in Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe