How Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump See the World Differently

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, in Los Angeles May 5 and Republican candidate Donald Trump, right, in Eugene, Ore., on May 6.

By DAMIAN PALETTA – – – — 

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have offered sharply different views on the U.S.’s role in the world. Here’s a look at how some of their viewpoints contrast:

CHINA

Trump

Mr. Trump frequently mentions China in speeches, describing the country occasionally as a U.S. ally and other times as one of the U.S.’s top adversaries, particularly when it comes to economic policy. Mr. Trump has said he would label China a currency manipulator, crack down on hacking, and threaten the Chinese government with steep tariffs if it doesn’t agree to rewrite trade agreements. He would also expand the U.S.’s military presence in the South China Sea as a deterrent to China’s territorial claims to artificial islands there.

In a bid to lure U.S. manufacturers back from China, Mr. Trump would lower the corporate tax rate to 15%. He said he would toughen rules against the theft of intellectual property and combat subsidies China offers to boost exports. He opposes the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement which includes the U.S., Japan and 10 other countries.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has been a constant critic of China’s human-rights record. She has called the current U.S./China dynamic “one of the most challenging relationships we have,” but she has also said the two countries share a “positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship.”

In terms of her time as secretary of state during President Barack Obama’s first term, Mrs. Clinton said she pushed hard for China to agree to new greenhouse gas emission standards. She also gave a 2010 speech that focused on internet freedom and criticized China, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan for having “stepped up their censorship of the internet.” The speech mentioned China 10 times.

She opposes the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, though she backed the talks when she was secretary of state. She was one of the U.S. officials in 2009 who launched an annual meeting between the U.S. and China focused on strategic and economic issues.

***

EUROPE

Trump

Mr. Trump has been sharply critical of European leaders for not doing more to combat the flow of terrorists across their borders, saying France and Belgium in particular have laws that made it difficult for national security officials to thwart recent attacks. He has also said restrictions on gun ownership in these countries have prevented innocent civilians from protecting themselves during terror attacks.

Mr. Trump, who plans to visit the U.K. later this month, has engaged in a testy exchange with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron over Mr. Trump’s proposal to ban the entry of Muslims into the U.S.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted Mr. Trump as saying he believed the U.K. should leave the European Union. More broadly, he has said Germany and other countries should pay the U.S. more money for military protection, or risk losing U.S. support.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton speaks frequently about supporting U.S. allies in Europe, marking a contrast with Mr. Trump. But she has also said Europeans should do more to monitor the flow of foreign fighters back to Europe from Iraq and Syria, saying it poses terror threats. She made more than 50 visits to European countries as secretary of state, and has numerous relationships with leaders and diplomats there. Mrs. Clinton has warned against the U.K. exiting the European Union, with her campaign saying Europe needs to remain united and that the British voice is an essential part of the E.U.

***

IMMIGRATION/MEXICO

Trump

He has called for the construction of a roughly 1,000 mile wall, financed by Mexico, to secure the U.S.’s southern border. Until this wall is built, he has said, he will “impound” all remittance payments “derived from illegal wages” sent from people in the U.S. to Mexico. He wants to triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Mr. Trump has also proposed deporting the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants believed to be currently living in the U.S. and enhancing penalties for people who overstay visas. He has called for ending “birthright citizenship,” which is the legal process for granting citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.

Mr. Trump has said he will overturn the North American Free Trade Agreement, in part because he believes Mexico is using it to drive a huge trade surplus against the U.S. He has slammed U.S. companies for moving operations to Mexico, saying he would hit these companies with tariffs if they tried to bring goods back to the U.S.

Clinton

She has called for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, including a pathway to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally. She supports executive actions under the Obama administration that seek to protect millions of people from deportation, including young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and parents of U.S. citizens.

Mrs. Clinton used to say positive things about NAFTA but recently has been more circumspect, saying it helped some people and hurt others.  Her main opponent in the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has hammered her for her past support of NAFTA.

***

IRAQ

Trump

Mr. Trump has been critical of President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, saying it helped unleash a wave of instability in the Middle East that continues to sew chaos. Mr. Trump has said he opposed the invasion at the time, though critics have said his position on the matter was not clear cut.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton voted in 2002 as a senator from New York to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, a decision that opponents have used to attack her for years and that she has since apologized for. She visited Iraq just once as secretary of state, in April 2009. She has criticized the Iraqi national army for not doing more to secure the country and deter Islamic State, and praised Kurdish forces fighting in the north of Iraq. She has called for pressuring Iraq to “get its political house in order” and the creation of a national guard.

***

IRAN

Trump

Mr. Trump has been extremely critical of the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, saying the U.S. allowed Iran to access $150 billion in money that had been frozen. He has added that the White House received few concessions as part of the deal. He has proposed renegotiating the nuclear deal, though it’s unclear exactly how he would structure any agreement. He has called for doubling and tripling the sanctions the U.S. had historically placed on Iran as a way to force them toward more concessions.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has struck a tougher stance than Mr. Obama with Iran. She has said she supports the recent nuclear agreement, but she criticized the Iranian government for its treatment of sailors who were detained after allegedly drifting into Iranian waters. She has said Iran continues to violate U.N. Security Council resolutions through its testing of ballistic missiles, and she has called for new sanctions against the country.

Mrs. Clinton was in the Obama administration during a historic thaw of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Mr. Obama wrote letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during Mrs. Clinton’s time in office, but it’s unclear what her position on the initial outreach efforts was at the time. She was, however, part of a historic increase in sanctions against Iran during the early years of the Obama administration, which supporters say helped force Iran to negotiate on its nuclear deal.

***

ISLAMIC STATE/SYRIA

Trump

Mr. Trump has said he will not give a fully detailed plan to defeat the Islamic State militant group because it would take away the element of surprise. He has said it could take 30,000 U.S. troops to defeat the Islamic State militant group in the Middle East, but he has not committed to deploying a force of that size. And he has proposed seizing Islamic State’s oil fields in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. While he has said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “bad,” he stopped short of calling for his ouster.

To deal with suspected terrorists, he has proposed changing international rules that forbid the military’s use of torture. He also proposed killing the family members of terrorists to serve as a deterrent to others. He has backed away from some of these comments amid a backlash from some current and former military officials–but not fully.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has said Sunni Muslims and Kurdish forces should play a bigger role in combating Islamic State, and has also called for expanding U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to defeat the terror network. She has also called for combating Islamic State’s ability to use social media to recruit, train, and plan attacks, though she hasn’t specified how the U.S. should do this. She also has said the U.S. should play a bigger role in helping resolve the humanitarian crisis caused by a huge wave of migrants fleeing Syria.

The biggest difference between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama in this area is her push to create a no-fly zone over Syria, a move that would likely put the U.S. in direct conflict with Russia, which has bombed anti-Assad forces in the area. Mr. Obama has not signaled support for such an idea.

Mrs. Clinton has received criticism for comments she made in 2011 that suggested some U.S. officials from both parties viewed Mr. Assad as a “reformer.” She later said she was representing the opinion of others, not herself or the White House. The White House has been pushing for Mr. Assad’s ouster in recent years, saying he’s responsible for thousands of deaths.

***

ISRAEL

Trump

Mr. Trump has advocated for more U.S. support for Israel, and worked to build bridges with Tel Aviv by slamming the nuclear deal with Iran. He made some in Israel nervous, though, when he said he would work to remain neutral in any peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He later softened his position, saying it would be very difficult to remain neutral. In March, he gave a speech to a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., that helped to assuage some of their concerns about his commitment to their views.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has criticized Mr. Trump’s approach to Israel, trying to align herself very closely with Israeli leaders in their push for security. She has said that her relationship with Israeli security officials spans more than 25 years and defended steps the country has taken to protect itself from rocket attacks. She has called for boosting U.S. support for Israeli missile-defense systems. She also supports helping Israel with technology to detect tunnels that Hamas uses to send fighters and bombers into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

***

MUSLIMS

Trump

In December, just days after a husband-and-wife team killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., and seemed to pledge an allegiance to Islamic State, Mr. Trump proposed a temporary ban on the entry of Muslims into the U.S. This proposal proved very popular with many GOP primary voters, but faced criticism from some GOP leaders who said it would be unconstitutional and impossible to enforce.

Mr. Trump has said the threats posed by Islamic extremists are too dangerous and that stark new measures must be put in place to protect the country. In recent weeks, however, he has suggested some flexibility on the Muslim-entry ban. “We’re going to look at a lot of different things,” he said in late May. “We have to be vigilant and we have to be tough and smart.”

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has said banning the entry of Muslims into the U.S. – even the proposal of it – will alienate Muslim allies in the Middle East and harm U.S. relations. She has said the proposal is being used by Islamic State to recruit new terrorists. To help combat terrorism and better spot warnings signs of radicalized youth, she said the government must do more to build alliances with Muslim community leaders in the U.S.

***

NATO

Trump

This marks one of the biggest differences between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump has called for demanding that European countries pay more for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s protection, and has suggested the U.S. might leave the alliance if that doesn’t happen during a Trump presidency. He has also said NATO should shift its focus away from Russian deterrence and more toward combating terrorism and dealing with migration flows.

Mr. Obama has also called for European countries to contribute more to NATO, though he has stopped short of some of Mr. Trump’s proposals.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has said that exiting NATO would only embolden Moscow. She has praised the existence of the alliance and said the U.S. should do more to strengthen allies, particularly against Russian aggression.

***

NORTH KOREA

Trump

Mr. Trump has said he would pressure China to crack down on North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, and he has called North Korea’s leader, Kim Jung Un, a “maniac.” But North Korea state media, using a propaganda website, has labeled Mr. Trump as “wise politician,” as he has said he would enter direct talks with Mr. Kim. Mr. Trump has also threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea, a shift that many in North Korea would likely embrace.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has proposed toughening sanctions against North Korea to force it to abandon its nuclear program, using the recent Iran deal as a model. While she was secretary of state from 2009 until Feb. 1, 2013, the Obama administration had mixed success cracking down on North Korea. Despite economic sanctions, North Korea conducted a nuclear weapon test on May 25, 2009, four months after Mrs. Clinton took office. It conducted another nuclear test on Feb. 12, 2013, shortly after Mrs. Clinton left the Obama administration. On Feb. 29, 2012, the Obama administration and North Korea entered into an agreement known as the “Leap Day” deal that allowed the U.S. to provide food aid to North Korea in exchange for a moratorium on the enrichment of uranium and any new missile testing. The agreement was short-lived, however. In April, North Korea launched a rocket that the U.S. said violated the agreement, and the food aid was cancelled.

***

RUSSIA

Trump

Mr. Trump has floated the idea of creating a new alliance with Russia, saying a reset of relations is necessary to help ease tensions in Syria and elsewhere. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said complimentary things about Mr. Trump, which the GOP candidate has said expresses good faith.

He has said, though, that more needs to be done to support the Ukraine, which has faced continued pressure and violence from Russia-backed separatists. Mr. Trump hasn’t specified, however, how he would propose aiding Ukraine.

Clinton

Mrs. Clinton has called Mr. Putin a “bully,” and has described the relationship between the U.S. and Russia as complicated. As secretary of state, she worked to broker more cooperation between the U.S. and Russia. In 2009, she posed with Mr. Putin for a photo-op in which they pushed a big, red “reset” button. By the end of her tenure, however, she wrote a private memo to the president warning that relations with Russia had hit a low point and the “reset” in relations was over, according to people who saw the document.

Russia participated in nuclear talks between the U.S. and both Iran and North Korea, something Clinton supporters have hailed as progress. But tensions between the U.S. and Russia remain extremely high, and Russian officials have signaled more openness to working with Mr. Trump than with Mrs. Clinton. Some of Russia’s most aggressive foreign policy moves in recent years, including the annexation of Crimea, occurred after Mrs. Clinton left office at the State Department.

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