Update June 3, 2016: Trump has fired back, stating, "“My temperament is so much tougher, and so much better, than her temperament. And, by the way, we need a tough temperament,” The Hill reports. He further blasted Clinton over the federal investigation into her emails, claiming "Hillary Clinton has to go to jail."
By Donald H. Harrison; photo by Chris Stone
Originally published in Times of San Diego, a San Diego Online News Association member
June 2, 2016 (San Diego)--Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took aim in San Diego at Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy, saying they are “dangerously incoherent” and “not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”
“He is not just unprepared, he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility,” she said in a major foreign policy speech.
Peppering her speech with one-liners casting doubt upon Trump’s readiness for office, Clinton spoke in the Prado Auditorium of Balboa Park’s House of Hospitality before 300 invited attendees and nearly as many members of the media, whose working areas described a giant “L” on two sides of the room. Her speech was interrupted by some 40 instances of applause, cheers, and occasional “boos”– the latter deriding Trump’s positions.
The former New York Senator, speaking deliberately and with the use of a teleprompter, made no mention in her speech of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is contesting her in California’s June 7 Democratic primary, reinforcing the impression that she considers it a foregone conclusion that she will win sufficient delegates to assure her the party’s nomination.
Clinton ridiculed Trump while delivering to her audience a primer on the challenges facing foreign policy makers.
Some of her descriptions of Trump included:
- “He believes he can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experience in 2008.”
- “He has said he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists even though those are war crimes.”
- “He says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese and he has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.”
- “He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends, including the British prime minister, the mayor of London, The German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope.
- “He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”
Returning to Putin later in her speech, Clinton said:
“I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strong men who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square Massacre. He said it showed strength. He said you have got to give Kim Jong-un credit for taking over North Korea, something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully as if he were recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he would give him an A. Now I will leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his attraction for tyrants. I don’t know how anyone can be so wrong about who America’s real friends are…
Unless you know exactly who you are dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.”
Clinton said the United States must “stick with our allies,” who fight alongside U.S. troops, work with American diplomats, provide staging areas for U.S. forces, and share intelligence to identify potential threats.
“Take the threat posed by North Korea, perhaps the most repressive regime on the face of the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States,” Clinton said. “When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies, Japan and South Korea, to respond to this threat including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours; key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it, and this month all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it.”
She said it is “no small thing” when Trump “talks about leaving NATO, or says he will stay neutral on Israel’s security. It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. We are lucky to have two friendly neighbors on our land borders. Why would he want to make one of them an enemy? It’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and he said this about a war between Japan and North Korea and I quote: ‘If they do, they do. Good luck. Enjoy yourself folks.’ I wonder if he even realizes this is talking about nuclear war.”
Clinton contrasted her use of diplomacy with what she said are the tools that Trump brings to the table: “bragging, mocking and composing nasty tweets — I am willing to bet he is writing a few right now. Those tools won’t do the trick. Rather than solving global crises he would create new ones.”
As an example of the kind of diplomacy she favors, Clinton told of the nuclear agreement with Iran. “Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb. Some called for military action but that could have ignited a broader war that could have mired our troops in another Middle Eastern conflict. President Obama chose a different path and I got to work leading the effort to impose crippling sanctions. We brought Iran to the table. We began talks and eventually we reached an agreement that blocked every path for Iran to get the weapon…As I said many times before our approach must be ‘distrust and verify.’ The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary including with military action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
“In particular,” she added to heavy applause, “Israel’s security is non-negotiable. They are our closest ally in the region and we have a moral obligation to defend them.”
What was important about the Iran deal, she said, is “we are safer now than we were before this agreement and we accomplished it without firing a single shot, dropping a single bomb or putting a single American soldier in harm’s way.”
She said Trump “doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It will become very clear, very quickly. You know there is no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf course deal, but it doesn’t work like that in world affairs—just like being interviewed on the same episode of 60 Minutes as Putin is not actually the same thing as dealing with Putin.”
In dealing with rivals like Russia and China, she said, “we need to be able to stand our ground when we must and find common ground when we can. That’s how I can work with Russia to conclude the START treaty to reduce nuclear stockpiles and with China to increase pressure on North Korea. It’s how our diplomats negotiated the landmark agreement on climate change. The key is never forgetting who we are dealing with, not friends or allies, but countries that share some common interests with us amid many disagreements. Donald doesn’t see the complexity.”
Concerning the fight against terror, Clinton said she believes the U.S. should deny ISIS its strongholds in Iraq and Syria “by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. We need to keep pursuing diplomacy to end Syria’s civil war and close Iraq’s sectarian divide because those conflicts are keeping ISIS alive. We need to lash up with our allies and ensure our intelligence services are working hand in hand to dismantle a global network that supplies money, arms, propaganda and fighters to the terrorists.”
In contrast, she said, Trump won’t tell what his plan is. “Just look at the few things he has actually said about ISIS. He has actually said, and I quote, ‘Maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS’ (which) would let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East. Then he said he intends to send thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS. He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass casualties. It is clear he doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about so we can’t be certain which of these things he would do, but we can be certain that he is capable of doing any or all of them.”
Clinton said that through “all his loose talk there is one theme: demonizing Muslims and playing right into the hands of ISIS. His proposal to ban 1.5 billion Muslims from even coming to our country doesn’t just violate the religious freedom our country was founded on. It’s a huge propaganda victory for ISIS and it alienates the very countries we need to help us win in this fight.”
View C-SPAN video
Read full transcript of speech: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/text-of-hillary-clintons-speech-on-national-security-2016-06-02