Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again Hardcover Donald Trump (2016)
FOREIGN POLICY: FIGHTING FOR PEACE
THE CAREER DIPLOMATS WHO got us into many foreign policy messes say I have no experience in foreign policy. They think that successful diplomacy requires years of experience and an understanding of all the nuances that have to be carefully considered before reaching a conclusion. Only then do these pinstriped bureaucrats consider taking action.
Look at the state of the world right now. It’s a terrible mess, and that’s putting it kindly.
There has never been a more dangerous time. The so-called insiders within the Washington ruling class are the people who got us into this trouble. So why should we continue to pay attention to them?
Some of these so-called “experts” are trying to scare people by saying that my approach would make the world more dangerous.
More dangerous? More dangerous than what? More dangerous than where we are now?
Here’s what I know—what we are doing now isn’t working. And years ago, when I was just starting out in business, I figured out a pretty simple approach that has always worked well for me:
When you’re digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole, stop digging.
My approach to foreign policy is built on a strong foundation: Operate from strength. That means we have to maintain the strongest military in the world, by far. We have to demonstrate a willingness to use our economic strength to reward those countries that work with us and punish those countries that don’t. That means going after the banks and financial institutions that launder money for our enemies, then move it around to facilitate terrorism. And we have to create alliances with our allies that reveal mutual benefits.
If we’re going to continue to be the policemen of the world, we ought to be paid for it.
Teddy Roosevelt always believed we should “speak softly and carry a big stick.” I’ve never been afraid to speak up to protect my interests and, truthfully, I don’t understand why we don’t speak more loudly about the ways we are losing around the world. If we don’t speak up, how is anything ever going to get better? How are we ever going to win?
America is the most powerful country in the world and we shouldn’t be afraid to say it. “Iron Mike” Tyson, the famous fighter, once explained his philosophy, saying, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
The first thing we need to do is build up our ability to throw that punch. We need to spend whatever it takes to completely fund our military properly. Fifteen years ago I wrote, “We can’t pursue forward military and foreign-policy objectives on a backward military budget.”
The best way not to have to use your military power is to make sure that power is visible.
When people know that we will use force if necessary and that we really mean it, we’ll be treated differently.
Right now, no one believes us because we’ve been so weak with our approach to military policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Building up our military is cheap when you consider the alternative. We’re buying peace and we’re locking in our national security. Right now we are in bad shape militarily. We’re decreasing the size of our forces and we’re not giving them the best equipment. Recruiting the best people has fallen off, and we can’t get the people we have trained to the level they need to be. There are a lot of questions about the state of our nuclear weapons. When I read reports of what is going on, I’m shocked.
It’s no wonder nobody respects us. It’s no surprise that we never win.
Spending money on our military is also smart business. Who do people think build our airplanes and ships, and all the equipment that our troops should have? American workers, that’s who. So building up our military also makes economic sense because it allows us to put real money into the system and put thousands of people back to work.
There is another way to pay to modernize our military forces. If other countries are depending on us to protect them, shouldn’t they be willing to make sure we have the capability to do it? Shouldn’t they be willing to pay for the servicemen and servicewomen and the equipment we’re providing?
Depending on the price of oil, Saudi Arabia earns somewhere between half a billion and a billion dollars every day. They wouldn’t exist, let alone have that wealth, without our protection. We get nothing from them. Nothing.
We defend Germany. We defend Japan. We defend South Korea. These are powerful and wealthy countries. We get nothing from them.
It’s time to change all that. It’s time to win again.
We’ve got 28,500 wonderful American soldiers on South Korea’s border with North Korea. They’re in harm’s way every single day. They’re the only thing that is protecting South Korea. And what do we get from South Korea for it? They sell us products—at a nice profit. They compete with us.
We spent two trillion dollars doing whatever we did in Iraq. I still don’t know why we did it, but we did. Iraq is sitting on an ocean of oil. Is it out of line to suggest that they should contribute to their own future? And after the blood and the money we spent trying to bring some semblance of stability to the Iraqi people, maybe they should be willing to make sure we can rebuild the army that fought for them.
When Kuwait was attacked by Saddam Hussein, all the wealthy Kuwaitis ran to Paris. They didn’t just rent suites—they took up whole buildings, entire hotels. They lived like kings while their country was occupied.
Who did they turn to for help? Who else? Uncle Sucker. That’s us.
We spent billions of dollars sending our army to win back Kuwait. Our people were killed and wounded, but the Iraqis went back to their country.
About two months after the war, several Kuwaitis came up to my office to discuss a deal I wanted to do with them. Believe me, they would not have lost money on this deal. They told me, “No, no, no, we do not like the United States for investment purposes. We have great respect for you, but we want to invest outside of the United States.”
We had just handed them back their country!
They were watching TV in the best hotel rooms in Paris while our kids were fighting for them. And they didn’t want to invest in this country?
How stupid are we?!
Why didn’t the United States make a deal with them that outlined how they would pay for us to get their country back for them? They would have paid anything if just asked.
The point is, we’re spending trillions of dollars to safeguard other countries. We’re paying for the privilege of fighting their battles. It makes no sense to me.
It really is time the rest of the world paid their fair share, and if I have anything to say about it, they will!
The biggest question people ask about foreign policy is at what point do we put boots on the ground? We can’t be afraid to use our military, but sending our sons and daughters should be the very last resort. I’ve seen what wars do to our kids. I’ve seen their broken bodies, know all about the horrors that live in their heads, and the enormous effects of trauma. We cannot commit American troops to battle without a real and tangible objective.
My rules of engagement have always been pretty simple—if we are going to intervene in a conflict, there had better be a direct threat to our national interests. The threat should be so obvious that most Americans will know where the hot spot is on the globe and will quickly understand why we are getting involved. Also, we’d better have an airtight plan to win and get out.
In other words, my strategy would be the exact opposite of our strategy in going to war with Iraq.
Iraq was no threat to us. The American people had no idea why the Bush administration decided to attack.
Our brilliant strategists had to twist our intelligence reports and drum up reasons for an invasion. We targeted Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction as a justification. There was no plan (or a very flawed one) to win and leave. Before the war started I came out very strongly against it. It made no sense to me. I said then that it would be a disaster and would destabilize the Middle East. I said that without Iraq to hold them back, Iran would attempt to take over the Middle East.
And that’s exactly what has happened.
There are some places in the world where massive force is necessary. The threat from ISIS is real. It is a new kind of enemy and it has to be stopped. The longer we wait before doing that, the more dangerous it will become. We don’t need another 9/11 to understand that these people want to kill us, and we’re not doing enough to prevent them from spreading their vicious brand of terrorism. The headlines and videos tell us what we’re dealing with: rapes, kidnapping, and lining up civilians in order to cut their heads off. There is also strong evidence that ISIS is resorting to chemical warfare.
It’s time to get serious about our response. Either we’re fighting to win or we’re going to continue to be big losers.
Unfortunately, it may require boots on the ground to fight the Islamic State. I don’t think it’s necessary to broadcast our strategy. (In fact, one of the most ridiculous policy blunders President Obama has committed was to announce our timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.) If military advisers recommend it, we should commit a limited—but sufficient—number of troops to fight on the ground. We could also easily expand air operations to make it impossible for ISIS to ever find safe haven anywhere in the region. Our policy of trying to be “advisers” in the field has certainly been a failure.
However, I have a unique perspective on what action we should take. While ISIS is our most violent enemy, they ended up with oil in Iraq and Syria that we should have taken. That oil, along with ransom and extortion, is funding their army. I’ve advocated bombing the hell out of those oil fields to cut off the source of their money. This would barely affect the world oil supply, but it would dramatically reduce their ability to fund terrorism.
We have to take that oil because it is the source of their wealth. We would hit them so hard and so fast in so many different ways they wouldn’t know what happened. And then we’d hit them again and again until ISIS ceased to exist as a threat to anybody.
We don’t have a choice. These people are medieval barbarians. They cut off heads, they drown people, they torture people, and we can’t allow them to ever gain a safe foothold anywhere.
The number of ISIS troops is relatively small. Our intelligence community has estimated that there are no more than 30,000 to 50,000 ISIS fighters. People are usually surprised by that number. ISIS has done such a good job promoting fear that people assume it to be a much larger force. It isn’t. The entire ISIS force probably wouldn’t even fill Yankee Stadium. So defeating them requires a real commitment to go after them relentlessly wherever they are, without stopping, until every one of them is dead—and always bringing in other countries to help out.
Iran is a much more complex problem.
I am not afraid to criticize President Obama when he gets it wrong. When he was running for president in 2008, he correctly said, “Iran is a grave threat. It has an illicit nuclear program, it supports terrorism across the region and militias in Iraq, it threatens Israel’s existence, and it denies the Holocaust.”
So why when Iran was struggling financially would he agree to a nuclear deal that releases billions of dollars’ worth of assets, which will further subsidize their terrorism business? It makes no sense.
Iran was a powerful nation until the religious fanatics took over. As long as those people remain in power, Iran will be our enemy and a threat to Israel’s existence. Their supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has promised that Israel won’t exist in 25 years. We have to take that threat seriously and act accordingly.
I’ve always loved and admired the Jewish people and supported the special relationship we have with Israel. The next president has to restore our traditionally strong partnership. We have been there for Israel and will continue to be there for Israel, because it is the one stable democracy in that region. It has become a fair-trading partner and a fellow pioneer on the frontiers of medicine, communications, technology, and energy development, which will benefit both of our nations well into the future.
The miles that separate us right now from Iran are only a temporary barrier for them. If, or when, they develop missiles that can reach this country they will become a much greater threat. Meanwhile, they are financially supporting terrorist groups all over the world—and those groups are a real threat to our country and to our military serving overseas. Our enemies no longer need huge armies or billion-dollar missile systems to attack this country. Technology has made it possible for one or two terrorists to inflict terrible damage on us. We’ve got to stop Iran from sponsoring these murderers.
But instead, we continue losing.
The deal President Obama negotiated with Iran was the worst I have ever seen. We couldn’t have done worse.
Iran was boxed in and the sanctions were hurting them. President Obama put his “legacy” on the line and before we walked into negotiations, the mullahs knew he had to have a deal or end up looking even more incompetent, so they fleeced him.
We did everything wrong in those negotiations. Instead of removing the sanctions that forced the Iranians to negotiate, we should have doubled or tripled the sanctions.
Remember the principal strategy of negotiation: The side that needs the deal the most is the one that should walk away with the least.
I would have increased the sanctions until the conditions there were so terrible that the Iranian leaders were begging for a deal.
I would have laid down certain conditions that had to be agreed to, starting with the release of our four prisoners.
I wouldn’t have settled for less than a complete dismantling of all their nuclear facilities, destruction of all their centrifuges, and on-site inspections anytime, anywhere.
We didn’t get any of that—none of it—and then we released billions of dollars that had been frozen.
We literally paid them to force us to accept a terrible deal. That would be like me beginning negotiations to build another magnificent skyscraper along the Hudson with 50-mile views in all directions, and walking out with approval to put up a small three-story building facing a wall.
Iran got what it wanted (the release of their seized assets) and in return gave up what might have seemed like huge concessions, only to find out that there were so many loopholes that it will be nearly impossible to enforce anything meaningful.
The possibility of Iran defying the world and developing a nuclear weapon is still very real. If the Iranians decide to prevent us (or the International Atomic Energy Agency) from inspecting their facilities, there isn’t too much that we can do about it other than take military action. The coalition of countries that enforced those sanctions is finished. Those countries—and several of them couldn’t care less about Israel—had people in Tehran talking business before the ink had dried on the side agreements.
And then President Obama wouldn’t let Congress look at the deal. Once the new Iranian “partners” start making money there is no way the sanctions can ever be put back into place.
Unfortunately, the deal is done. Once the sanctions are removed there is no going back, no “snapback.” Putting sanctions back in place unilaterally won’t do any good. I am especially good at reading a contract. There is always a loophole, we need to find it and, if necessary, they will pay big-league dollars.
Whatever it takes, whatever we have to do, Iran cannot be allowed to build a nuclear weapon.
There are many different ways to make sure that Iran is never armed with nuclear weapons. I’d be happy to sit down with the Iranian leaders when they understand that the best course for them, if they want to be a major player in the civilized world, is to close down their entire nuclear program. An Iran with a nuclear weapon would start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with potentially devastating consequences. The situation would rapidly escalate to being the most dangerous threat Israel has ever faced. And it would force us to use extreme measures in defense of Israel and other allies in the region.
That’s not going to happen, whatever Iran might think right now.
Today the world has to deal with two “sets” of China.
The good China is the one that has built great cities and provided housing and education for millions of people. The good China allows its citizens to travel around the world and get an education, and has helped create a growing middle class.
The bad China is the one that’s mostly hidden to outsiders. It’s the government that controls Internet access for its citizens, cracks down on political dissent, closes newspapers, jails dissidents, restricts individual freedoms, launches cyber-attacks, and uses its clout around the world to manipulate economies.
And all the while it is building up its military strength.
There is no question that dealing with China, along with Russia, is going to continue to be our biggest challenge long-term.
Our competition with China right now is economic, and we’ve been losing that battle for a long time. China has become our third-largest trading partner, behind only our neighbors Canada and Mexico. Yet China holds more of our American debt—more than $1.5 trillion—than any other country. (Although Japan is close.) As we saw in the summer of 2015 when the Chinese stock markets collapsed, our economies are tied together in a very negative way.
Many years ago, there was an adage that “When General Motors sneezes, the stock market catches a cold.” In those days, GM was such a big player in the economy that if it stumbled, our economy suffered, too. The recent precipitous decline of the Chinese stock market caused our own Dow Jones average to plummet 1,000 points in a couple of days as investors ran for cover. Likewise, our trade deficit has been a dangerous drag on our economy. When China devalues its currency, this upsets the already tenuous balance of trade.
We know that we have become dependent on the emerging Chinese markets—but they have become dependent on us, too. In 2014, we imported 17 percent more Chinese goods than any other country in the world. Hong Kong, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of China, was second and Japan a distant third. The health of the Chinese economy depends on us. They need our trade more than we need them.
Foolishly, we don’t use that to our advantage.
For the last few decades, China’s economy has been growing at a phenomenal 9 to 10 percent each year, although more recently there are signs of a cooling off. Despite these recent upheavals, economists have made predictions that within the next decade, China will replace the United States as the world’s largest economy. What have we done to make sure we will be able to compete with them? What have we done to beat them?
I’ll tell you what we’ve done: We’ve rolled over.
There are people who wish I wouldn’t refer to China as our enemy. But that’s exactly what they are. They have destroyed entire industries by utilizing low-wage workers, cost us tens of thousands of jobs, spied on our businesses, stolen our technology, and have manipulated and devalued their currency, which makes importing our goods more expensive—and sometimes, impossible.
I know from my own experience that this is a difficult problem. The Chinese are very savvy businesspeople, and they have great advantages over our manufacturers. I’ve had several Trump-brand products made there.
That’s a good example of the difference between a politician and a businessman. To stay in business I have to be smarter than my competition. I could make a very important point if I refused to have my goods manufactured there.
As long as we’re playing under these conditions American companies don’t have a choice. Third-world countries have substantially lower production costs. They have lower overhead and pay their workers a lot less. As a businessman, I have an obligation to all of my employees and to consumers and stockholders to produce the best product at the lowest possible price.
However, as a matter of American global policy, we want to take away China’s advantages. Last year, President Obama went to China and they held a beautiful banquet for him. Before Chinese president Xi Jinping made a reciprocal visit here, the White House announced plans for a lavish dinner. I made the point that hosting a state dinner in his honor was about the last thing I would do. Instead I’d tell him it was time we got down to business, and we would go to work. For starters, the Chinese regime must stop devaluing their currency because doing so makes it even harder for the rest of the world to compete.
The reality is that China needs a strong American economy as much as we need their business. In May 2015, for example, Americans bought $1 out of every $5 worth of products China exported that month. We buy almost 20 percent of all their exports, considerably more than the EU does, which is the second-biggest consumer of Chinese goods. And that American percentage is increasing every year, making China more and more dependent on the American consumer for its own prosperity.
As Steve Forbes wrote in his magazine, “China’s holdings in US Treasuries, which reached record levels in 2013, are setting off alarm bells. They shouldn’t. They underscore that Beijing is becoming more dependent on the US and the rest of the world for its strength and prosperity.”
Remember: The Chinese need us as much as we need them.
Maybe even more.
So what should we do about it? We are going to use the leverage we have to change the situation so that it favors America and our people. We have to start by getting tough with the Chinese. I’ve negotiated with Chinese companies. I know how they do business. I’m actually landlord to China’s largest bank, which has its offices in Trump Tower. We’ve successfully negotiated several leases. It hasn’t always been easy. These are skilled people but I never backed down.
Believe me, I know the best negotiators in this country, and a lot of them would be ready to go to work creating a fair balance of trade. If people like Carl Icahn were representing America, we would see a big difference in our trading policy.
We actually hold a very strong hand. Unfortunately, our politicians are either too stupid or too foolish to understand this. Maybe they are both. We have several very good options, but it is always important to be flexible—and never reveal our cards. Our politicians talk too much.
President Obama makes strong statements and promises us vigorous actions then nothing happens.
So what happens when he makes those promises and never follows through? He loses all his credibility. I wonder what our great generals, men like MacArthur and Patton, would say if they heard a president revealing our plans for the Middle East or daring our enemies to cross a line.
A very good story recently quoted a businessman describing me as “unpredictable,” noting it was one of my better qualities and helped me make a lot of money. Now that I am running for president, which so many experts predicted I would not do, that same trait has made it really hard for all my critics to figure out how to compete with my message. They’re all busy playing nicely, following all the establishment rules, taking every predictable step, trying to fit inside the conventional wisdom—and when I don’t play that game, they don’t know how to respond.
Tipping your hand is one of the dumbest mistakes you can make in a military confrontation. I’ve read a lot of history and I don’t recall reading that General George Washington made hotel reservations in Valley Forge, or that he sent ahead his best wishes to the Hessians in Trenton. The element of surprise wins battles. So I don’t tell the other side what I’m doing, I don’t warn them, and I don’t let them fit me comfortably into a predictable pattern. I don’t want people to know exactly what I’m doing—or thinking. I like being unpredictable.
It keeps them off balance.
As a leader, I also know there are times when you should keep your cards close to the vest. When I was assembling property to build a skyscraper, for example, I had to buy many small lots so I could combine them into one very large and valuable buildable location, and total secrecy was an absolute necessity. If the owners of those properties had found out what I was doing they would have been able to squeeze considerably more money out of me for their properties.
My point is that right now we’re doing too much talking.
When dealing with China we need to stand up to them and remind them that it’s bad business to take advantage of your best customer. And then we should sit down and figure out how to make this a more equitable relationship.
There is no one-size-fits-all foreign policy. We need to make our beliefs very clear and let them form the framework of our policy.
Everything begins with a strong military. Everything.
We will have the strongest military in our history, and our people will be equipped with the best weaponry and protection available.
That means the best missile systems, the best cyber-warfare training and equipment, and the best-trained soldiers. And when they come home after a war, battered and bruised, our troops won’t have to wait months for treatment.
We owe those who serve us the best and the fastest care. It’s ridiculous how long our vets have to wait to get the help they deserve. They are our heroes, and the present administration has forgotten them.
So how do we turn the tide and start winning again?
As I’ve said, it starts with the most advanced and muscular military in the world, the most mobile one as well. We need to put some of the bill for this transformation on the Saudi Arabians, the South Koreans, the Germans, the Japanese, and the British. We’re protecting them, after all, and they should share in the costs.
Next, we need to operate from a position of economic strength. We have the most powerful consumer engine in the world. We just need to start using it to our full advantage.
Nobody likes to do business more than I do, but every deal I make will have one objective: America wins.
We need to use the economic strength of American markets and the American consumer to assist our friends and remind our enemies about the benefits of cooperation.
We need to use those strengths to form stronger alliances with our natural allies, but we need to expect them to be there when they are needed. I still don’t understand why Germany and other countries watched impassively as Putin marched into Ukraine. You can be sure Israel can be counted on to stand tall with us in the Middle East.
And finally, we need to pay special attention to the Chinese. Their days of undercutting us with protectionist policies and cyber-theft are over.
The new dawn of America has just begun.