Donald Trump recently sat down for a long interview on Foreign Policy with a couple of New York Times reporters in which he weighed in on a number of interesting topics. Some of his answers may surprise you. Here's a slice:
Over two telephone conversations on Friday, Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, discussed his views on foreign policy with Maggie Haberman and David E. Sanger of The New York Times. Here is an edited transcript of their interview:
HABERMAN: I wanted to ask you about some things that you said in Washington on Monday, more recently. But you’ve talked about them a bunch. So, you have said on several occasions that you want Japan and South Korea to pay more for their own defense. You’ve been saying versions of that about Japan for 30 years. Would you object if they got their own nuclear arsenal, given the threat that they face from North Korea and China?
TRUMP: Well, you know, at some point, there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this anymore. And, I know the upsides and the downsides. But right now we’re protecting, we’re basically protecting Japan, and we are, every time North Korea raises its head, you know, we get calls from Japan and we get calls from everybody else, and “Do something.” And there’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore. Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear. It’s a very scary nuclear world. Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation. At the same time, you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have money. You know, when we did these deals, we were a rich country. We’re not a rich country. We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We’re not anymore. We have a military that’s severely depleted. We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape. They don’t even know if they work. We’re not the same country, Maggie and David, I mean, I think you would both agree.
SANGER: So, just to follow Maggie’s thought there, though, the Japanese view has always been, if the United States, at any point, felt as if it was uncomfortable defending them, there has always been a segment of Japanese society, and of Korean society that said, “Well, maybe we should have our own nuclear deterrent, because if the U.S. isn’t certain, we need to make sure the North Koreans know that.” Is that a reasonable position. Do you think at some point they should have their own arsenal?
TRUMP: Well, it’s a position that we have to talk about, and it’s a position that at some point is something that we have to talk about, and if the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway with or without me discussing it, because I don’t think they feel very secure in what’s going on with our country, David. You know, if you look at how we backed our enemies, it hasn’t – how we backed our allies – it hasn’t exactly been strong. When you look at various places throughout the world, it hasn’t been very strong. And I just don’t think we’re viewed the same way that we were 20 or 25 years ago, or 30 years ago. And, you know, I think it’s a problem. You know, something like that, unless we get very strong, very powerful and very rich, quickly, I’m sure those things are being discussed over there anyway without our discussion.
HABERMAN: Will you –
SANGER: And would you have an objection to it?
TRUMP: Um, at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now. And you have, Pakistan has them. You have, probably, North Korea has them. I mean, they don’t have delivery yet, but you know, probably, I mean to me, that’s a big problem. And, would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case. In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem. You very well may have a better case right there. We certainly haven’t been able to do much with him and with North Korea. But you may very well have a better case. You know, one of the things with the, with our Japanese relationship, and I’m a big fan of Japan, by the way. I have many, many friends there. I do business with Japan. But, that, if we are attacked, they don’t have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force. You understand. That’s a pretty one-sided agreement, right there. In other words, if we’re attacked, they do not have to come to our defense, if they’re attacked, we have to come totally to their defense. And that is a, that’s a real problem.
Nuclear Weapons, Cyberwarfare and Spying on Allies
HABERMAN: Would you, you were just talking about the nuclear world we live in, and you’ve said many times, and I’ve heard you say it throughout the campaign, that you want the U.S. to be more unpredictable. Would you be willing to have the U.S. be the first to use nuclear weapons in a confrontation with adversaries?
TRUMP: An absolute last step. I think it’s the biggest, I personally think it’s the biggest problem the world has, nuclear capability. I think it’s the single biggest problem. When people talk global warming, I say the global warming that we have to be careful of is the nuclear global warming. Single biggest problem that the world has. Power of weaponry today is beyond anything ever thought of, or even, you know, it’s unthinkable, the power. You look at Hiroshima and you can multiply that times many, many times, is what you have today. And to me, it’s the single biggest, it’s the single biggest problem.
SANGER: You know, we have an alternative these days in a growing cyberarsenal. You’ve seen the growing cybercommand and so forth. Could you give us a vision of whether or not you think that the United States should regularly be using cyberweapons, perhaps, as an alternative to nuclear? And if so, how would you either threaten or employ those?
TRUMP: I don’t see it as an alternative to nuclear in terms of, in terms of ultimate power. Look, in the perfect world everybody would agree that nuclear would, you know, be so destructive, and this was always the theory, or was certainly the theory of many. That the power is so enormous that nobody would ever use them. But, as you know, we’re dealing with people in the world today that would use them, O.K.? Possibly numerous people that use them, and use them without hesitation if they had them. And there’s nothing, there’s nothing as, there’s nothing as meaningful or as powerful as that, and you know the problem is, and it used to be, and you would hear this, David, and I would hear it, and everybody would hear it, and — I’m not sure I believed it, ever. I talk sometimes about my uncle from M.I.T., and he would tell me many years ago when he was up at M.I.T. as a, he was a professor, he was a great guy in many respects, but a very brilliant guy, and he would tell me many years ago about the power of weapons someday, that the destructive force of these weapons would be so massive, that it’s going to be a scary world. And, you know, we have been under the impression that, well we’ve been, I think it’s misguided somewhat, I’ve always felt this but that nobody would ever use them because of the power. And the first one to use them, I think that would be a very bad thing. And I will tell you, I would very much not want to be the first one to use them, that I can say.
SANGER: The question was about cyber, how would you envision using cyberweapons? Cyberweapons in an attack to take out a power grid in a city, so forth.
TRUMP: First off, we’re so obsolete in cyber. We’re the ones that sort of were very much involved with the creation, but we’re so obsolete, we just seem to be toyed with by so many different countries, already. And we don’t know who’s doing what. We don’t know who’s got the power, who’s got that capability, some people say it’s China, some people say it’s Russia. But certainly cyber has to be a, you know, certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process. Inconceivable that, inconceivable the power of cyber. But as you say, you can take out, you can take out, you can make countries non-functioning with a strong use of cyber. I don’t think we’re there. I don’t think we’re as advanced as other countries are, and I think you probably would agree with that. I don’t think we’re advanced, I think we’re going backwards in so many different ways. I think we’re going backwards with our military. I certainly don’t think we are, we move forward with cyber, but other countries are moving forward at a much more rapid pace. We are frankly not being led very well in terms of the protection of this country.
A lot more interesting stuff at the link.