Presidential hopeful calls for new approach to halt spread of radical Islam
Donald Trump has laid out a US blueprint for defeating global terrorism in partnership with Nato and Middle East allies, demanding extreme restrictions on immigration and likening the fight to the Cold War.
The Republican nominee, who is tanking in the polls following weeks of self-inflicted disasters, made his pitch to be a security strongman as Vice-President Joe Biden accused him of imperilling the lives of Americans.
“We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism just as we have defeated every threat we faced at every age,” Trump said in Ohio, a battleground state considered essential to winning the US presidential election.
His foreign policy address marked the latest attempt by the Trump campaign to get their candidate back on track as his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, surges ahead in the polls.
He claimed that the Islamic State extremist group, which is the target of US-led air strikes and Special Forces operations in Iraq and Syria, was fully operational in 18 countries and had “aspiring branches in six more”.
The real-estate tycoon and former reality TV star promised to end the US policy of “nation building” and called for a new approach in partnership with foreign allies to halt the spread of radical Islam.
Trump vowed to work closely with Nato, sidestepping previous criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after saying that a Trump presidency would not automatically leap to members’ defence.
“I have previously said 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. Very good,” he said.
Trump said he believed the US could find common ground with Russia in the fight against IS – a claim bound to do little to silence critics who accuse him of being soft on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At home he demanded new immigration screening, saying that the perpetrators of a series of attacks in the US – including the September 11 2001 attack, hijackings, the 2013 Boston bombings and the recent mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub – involved “immigrants or the children of immigrants”.
“We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” he said.
He promised to temporarily suspend immigration from “the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that export terrorism”.
“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. I call it extreme vetting.”
Trump also proposed setting up a commission on radical Islam, which would include reformist voices in the Muslim community to root out jihadist networks and stop radicalisation of young Americans.
But Biden, who on Monday hit the campaign trail with Clinton for the first time, trashed Trump as unqualified for the White House and accused him of endangering the lives of US troops.
“No major party nominee in the history of the United States of America has known less or been less prepared to deal with our national security than Donald Trump,” he said.