Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada..
(photo credit: ETHAN MILLER / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
WASHINGTON - The United States must begin testing the ideologies of potential immigrants and suspend all applications from countries with "a history of exporting terrorism," Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, said on Tuesday.
In remarks billed by his campaign as a cornerstone speech on his plan to fight the scourge of terrorism, Trump said that his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, has neither the fitness nor the temperament to combat a threat that metastasized during her leadership of the State Department.
"We cannot let this evil continue," he said, delivering the address relatively subdued for the typically animated candidate. "We will not– remember this– we will not defeat this with closed eyes."
Trump began with a breathless list of terrorist attacks that have gripped America, Europe and the Middle East since the rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He compared the threat of "radical Islam" to the forces of fascism, Nazism and communism that posed existential threats to the West throughout the last century."In the cold war, we had an ideological screening test" for entry into the US, Trump said, calling for a new one to weed out Islamists.
"I call it extreme, extreme vetting," he added. "We will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism."
The test, he said, would be for "sympathy" with radical Islamist causes, and for "hostility" to the United States or its "principles." Trump did not outline what he thought those principles consisted of in his speech.
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The GOP nominee said that, upon taking office as president, he would direct the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to "identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place." He would stop processing visas from those regions.The US currently receives "100,000 permanent immigrants from the Middle East every year," Trump asserted. "If we don't control the numbers, there is no way we can perform adequate screening."
Trump also called for the federal government to enhance military, cyber and financial warfare against the Islamic State terror network and its proxies, which he says now operate in eighteen countries across the Middle East and Mediterranean region.
But "we must use ideological warfare as well," Trump added. "We must take on the ideology of radical Islam."
A Trump administration would be a friend of "moderate Muslim reformers" throughout the Middle East, but will stand up against forces in the region that encourage honor killings of women and punish gays and lesbians.
The speech marked a departure from proposals he offered in the Republican primary campaign, when he outlined plans to ban all Muslims from entering the US homeland.
He wants to convene an international anti-terrorism conference if elected, and vowed to work with "our greatest ally, Israel," as well as King Abdullah of Jordan, Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the government of Russia.
"If I become president, the era of nation-building will be brought to a very swift and decisive end," he declared. The focus, instead, would be squarely on defeating radical Islamism.
"Foreign populations have brought their anti-Semitic attitudes with them," he added. "The situation is likely worse than the public has any idea."
Trump also accused US President Barack Obama of drawing moral equivalency between Western nations and Muslim nations ever since he delivered a landmark speech to the Arab world in Cairo in 2009.
"Instead of condemning the oppression of women and gays in many Muslim nations," Trump said, "President Obama tried to draw an equivalency between our human rights record and theirs."
"His naive words were followed by even more naive actions," he continued.
And Trump criticized only one nation-state for its support for terrorism: Iran, which he said has been given a "dominant position of regional power and is aspiring to be a world power" because of the nuclear deal it reached with world powers last year.
That is the fault of the Obama administration, and of its veteran, Hillary Clinton
, he charged.
"Worst of all, the nuclear deal puts Iran, the number one state sponsor of radical Islamic terrorism, on a path to nuclear weapons," he said.
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