Trump: Obama Made Iran a Great Power at Israel's Expense

In first foreign policy speech, Republican frontrunner says U.S. under his leadership would get out of 'nation-building business,' vows to make U.S. allies bear financial burden for their defense.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

In his first foreign policy speech, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused President Barack Obama of snubbing Israel on Wednesday and slammed the nuclear deal with Iran.

“(Obama) negotiated disastrous deal with Iran and then we watched them ignore its terms even before the ink was dry. Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon," Trump said at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.

"Under a Trump administration Iran will never be allowed to have that nuclear weapon," he added.

Trump blasted the Obama administration for criticizing Israel. "Israel, our great friend, and the only true democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity,” Trump said. "President Obama has not been a friend to Israel. He has treated Iran with tender love and care, and made it a great power," he said.

"Iran has indeed become a great power in a short period of time because of what we have done. All at the expense of Israel, our allies in the region and more importantly, the United States itself."

The real-estate mogul promised that as president, he will get the U.S. "out of the nation-building business," but also said that the U.S. needs a long-term plan to combat radical Islam.

“Containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States," he said. "We are going to be working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world.”

Trump promised more military spending, and accused Obama of cutting it in real terms by 25 percent. “We will spend what we need to rebuild our military.”

Trump said the U.S. should be "ashamed" of leaving Christians in the Middle East subjected to intense persecution, "even genocide." "We have done noting to help the Christians, and we should always be ashamed," he said. 

The Republican frontrunner reiterated his promise that he would make U.S. allies bear more of the financial burden for their defense. Trump was stern in charging that American allies have benefited from a U.S. defense umbrella but have not paid their fair share. 

"The countries we defend must pay for the cost of this defense. If not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice," Trump said. 

He spoke the day after victories in five Northeastern states that moved him closer to capturing the Republican Party presidential nomination for the November 8 election. 

The New York billionaire set aside his rancorous campaign rhetoric for his address on foreign policy, delivered at a downtown Washington hotel. Trump usually speaks in an off-the-cuff manner, but he delivered Wednesday's speech with the aid of a teleprompter as he sought to make himself appealing to more Republican voters. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted shortly after Trump finished, saying that his speech was "pathetic in terms of understanding the role America plays in the world, how to win War on Terror, and threats we face."

Many foreign policy and defense advisers say Trump's views are worrying, mingling isolationism and protectionism, with calls to force U.S. allies to pay more for their defense and proposals to impose punitive tariffs on some imported goods.

"Part of what I'm saying is we love our country and we love our allies, but our allies can no longer be taking advantage of this country," Trump told reporters on Tuesday night in a speech preview.

He said he would focus on nuclear weapons as the single biggest threat in the world today. "I'm probably the last on the trigger," Trump told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, citing his opposition to the Iraq war.

Trump, 69, said he agreed with Obama's decision to send an additional 250 U.S. Special Forces into Syria but would not have made the decision public. "I would send them in quietly because right now they have a target on their back," he told CNN.

The billionaire businessman promises to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States and to build a wall to block off Mexico.