The US needs to stop "nation building" around the world and focus on "taking care of ourselves," Donald Trump said in interviews with the Washington Post and CNN on Monday in which he questioned America's involvement in NATO. Some highlights:
- NATO allies "have to put up more money," he said. "We are paying disproportionately. It's too much, and frankly it's a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea." The Post notes that his call to diminish US involvement in NATO breaks with almost 70 years of consensus in Washington.
- Trump named a foreign policy team of largely little-known advisers: former Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, energy exec Carter Page, energy consultant George Papadopoulos, terrorism expert Walid Phares, and former Pentagon Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz.
- "Taken as a group, it's a fairly obscure set of individuals," Brookings Institution national security expert Michael O'Hanlon tells Reuters. Politico reports GOP experts are "baffled" and frames several advisers as "unknowns." It continues: "One prominently cites his attendance at a model United Nations conference as a credential on his LinkedIn page; another has compared President Barack Obama's official national security strategy to ... an 1850 document on how to manage slaves."
- Trump also questioned massive US military spending in Asia. "South Korea is very rich, great industrial country, and yet we're not reimbursed fairly for what we do," he said. "We're constantly sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games—we're reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing."
- He accused US allies of "not doing anything" to deal with Russian involvement in Ukraine. "Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we're doing all of the lifting," he said. "Why are we always the one that's leading, potentially, the third world war with Russia?"
- Trump described the US as a "poor country" and "debtor nation" that shouldn't be spending so much overseas. "I know the outer world exists, and I'll be very cognizant of that," he said. "But at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially the inner cities." Other countries "want our money, but they don't want us," he said, arguing that money spent on overseas commitments would be better spent in cities like Baltimore and Detroit.
- When the Post interview—a full transcript of which can be seen here—veered away from foreign policy, Trump spoke about violence at rallies, racial inequality, the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker case—and the size of his hands.
(Trump called himself a "true friend of Israel"
when he spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday.)