US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is ruffling more feathers. This time, he is targeting practically everyone else outside the US. First he warns American citizens that it is not safe to travel to the UK or the rest of Europe.
Then he takes it a step further and says that Nato is obsolete and that Japan and South Korea should stop relying on the US and instead should start building their own nuclear weapons. He also threatened US allies in the Middle East that if he were to become the next US president, he may consider stopping buying oil from them.
In a warning to the 10.8 million US citizens who travel to Britain and Europe annually, the billionaire said: "When you look at Brussels, when you look at the way they've handled things from law enforcement standpoints, when you look at Paris, when you look at so many other places, no, it's not [safe]."
Trump told the ABC TV network on 27 March: "I don't think Bruss ... England or I don't think that Europe is a safe place. No, I don't. I think there are a lot of problems that are very, very severe." In January, Trump referred to Brussels as "a hellhole" and following the bombing attacks in the capital city of Belgium, he reiterated his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration to the US.
Japan and South Korea
In an interview published on 27 March by the New York Times, Trump also said that he would be open to allowing both Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear weapons rather than depending on the US to protect them against North Korea and China. He said if the US "keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they're going to want to have that anyway, with or without me discussing it," he said.
He did not stop there. He threatened to withdraw US forces from both countries if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding the US troops based there.
Describing the 56-year-old security pact with Japan as one-sided, he said if he were to become the next US president, he would seek to renegotiate fundamental treaties with US allies. The newspaper noted that he did not, at any point of time, express any belief that the US forces deployed around the world were by themselves valuable to the US.
The paper noted that Republican and Democratic administrations have for decades argued that military bases outside the US are essential to deterring military adventurism, protecting commerce and gathering intelligence.
Oil purchases from the Middle East
Trump also threatened halting buying oil from Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies unless they commit ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State or Isis. Alternatively, they should consider to "substantially reimburse" the US for combating the militant group, which he said threatens their stability.
"If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection, I don't think it would be around," he said, in a 100-minute interview on foreign policy. When asked to elaborate on his "Take the oil" and ban Muslim immigrants and visitors slogans, he said: that if the US were to "take the oil" controlled by Isis in the Middle East, this would require deploying ground troops which he is not keen on. "We should've taken it, and we would've had it," he said, referring to the period when the US occupied Iraq. "Now we have to destroy the oil."
The newspaper said Trump's threat to cut off oil purchases from the Saudis was part of a broader complaint about the kingdom, which even some in the current US President Barack Obama's administration share that they often turn to the US to police the region without putting their own troops at risk.
Trump said: "We defend everybody. When in doubt, come to the United States. We'll defend you. In some cases free of charge."
He explained his reason for abandoning the Middle East: "The reason we're in the Middle East is for oil, and all of a sudden we're finding out that there's less reason to be there now." The newspaper noted that Trump did not mention the risks of withdrawal in the region.
On the Iran nuclear deal, he expressed outrage at how the roughly $150b released to Iran was being spent, he said: "Did you notice they're buying from everybody but the United States?" When told that current US laws still ban most American companies from doing business with Iran, he replied: "So, how stupid is that? We give them the money and we now say, 'Go buy Airbus instead of Boeing, right?"
Nato is obsolete
He did not mince his words over Nato either. The 28-country North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, according to Trump, "is obsolete." He said it is ill-suited to fighting terrorism and costs the US too much.
"We should readjust Nato ... it can be trimmed up and it can be, uh, it can be reconfigured ..." he added.