Donald Trump derided Hillary Clinton as a warmonger on Wednesday, saying: Sometimes it seems like there wasn’t a country in the Middle East Clinton didn’t want to invade, even as he called for a major increase in US defense spending.
In the speech at the Union League in Philadelphia, a century-and-a-half-old institution crammed with portraits of civil war generals and long-dead club presidents, Trump laid out his vision for a more robust US military paired with a cautious foreign policy.
Trump railed against his Democratic opponent as having been trigger-happy and very unstable during her tenure as secretary of state, claiming that she produced only turmoil, suffering and death while in office.
By contrast, the Republican nominee promised to prioritize diplomacy over destruction and pledged that in his administration our actions in the Middle East will be tempered by realism.
The address, billed as a policy speech on military readiness, marked Trump’s second on policy in the past week after addressing immigration last Wednesday in Phoenix. Trump has taken a more scripted approach in recent weeks, which have seen Hillary Clinton’s lead narrow in national polls.
Trump also called for an end to the sequester, the automatic spending cuts that took effect in 2013 as part of a budget deal in Congress, which forced significant cuts in both defense and non-defense spending. Trump only called for an end to the defense cuts, arguing that deep cuts in the military invite more aggression and, without increased spending, we will have aggression like you’ve never seen before.
At the time the sequester went into effect, the Republican nominee dismissed its impact. He told Fox News in 2013 that concern about it was over-exaggerated and dismissed naysayers, saying a lot of things are not going to happen that people are thinking are going to happen.
Clinton called for an end to the sequester at a speech to the American Legion in Cincinnati on 31 August. We cannot impose arbitrary limits on something as important as our military, the Democratic nominee said. That makes no sense at all. The sequester makes our country less secure. Let’s end it and get a budget deal that supports America’s military, our families, and our country.
Trump proposed to use the increased defense budget to expand the army to 540,000 people, the navy to 350 ships, and the air force to at least 1,200 fighter aircraft, as well as to develop a missile defense system. A number of the recommendations were based on a report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank based in Washington that Republicans have long relied on for policy recommendations.
The size of the armed forces has been reduced in recent years, with the army moving towards a long-term goal of reducing its force to 450,00 active duty soldiers. The marine corps has only 23 battalions, which the Heritage Foundation has argued is below the minimum of 30 needed for the United States to fight two major regional conflicts simultaneously.
Trump also pledged to build a state-of-the-art missile defense program, which he said would create a significant number of jobs. He said: Accomplishing this missile rebuild will be a 50-state effort. Every state in the union will be able to take part rebuilding our military and developing the technologies for tomorrow.
The Republican nominee provided few details about how this massive increase in spending would be funded. Trump talked vaguely of commonsense reforms that eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks as well as reducing the size of the federal bureaucracy through responsible workforce attrition. One specific measure Trump suggested was respectfully asking Germany, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to pay more for the tremendous security we provide them. Trump was confident that those countries will fully understand and insisted currently we are subsidizing them for billion of dollars.
Trump has previously pledged to greatly increase infrastructure spending and slash tax rates, all while maintaining current entitlement spending.
Trump also reiterated a statement he first made at a Tuesday night rally in Greenville, North Carolina, that, after being elected, he would ask the generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy Isis.
Previously, Trump has said he had a secret plan to defeat Isis that he did not want to share, telling Fox News in May 2015: I don’t want the enemy to know what I’m doing.
The Wednesday speech’s more sedate setting came after Trump delivered his most recent policy speech on immigration to a roaring crowd in Phoenix last week. Trump admitted to reporters on Monday that the setting may have led to his more strident than expected tone.
You had 15,000 people and 10,000 outside and they were going wild, Trump told reporters on his aircraft. A lot of that the noise was unbelievable, it’s possible when you make a speech like that you’re better off doing it for 150 people in front of the Washington Press Club.
In a press release issued before his speech, Trump also said that among his first requests as commander-in-chief would be to ask the joint chiefs of staff as well as other departments to identify potential vulnerabilities in the US’s cyber-defenses.
Clinton has suggested that the Russian government is using cyber-attacks to meddle in the US presidential election, after a host of emails were leaked in a hack of the Democratic National Committee. Trump has downplayed the severity of these hacks and even once apparently jokingly invited Russia to hack Clinton’s emails and release the findings.
In a clear dig at his Democratic opponent, Trump said he would enforce all classification rules, and enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.
Clinton reportedly told the FBI in a July interview about her use of a private email server that she could not recall key details and events related to classified information procedures, according to notes recently released by the bureau. Trump and his campaign have seized on this, saying Clinton’s apparent irreverence to the classification rules should disqualify her from seeking the presidency.
Additional reporting by Lauren Gambino in Washington
News Source TheGuardianNews