Donald Trump, the leading U.S. Republican presidential contender, called Wednesday for sharp changes in U.S. foreign policy to put American interests first, claiming that currently it "is a complete and total disaster."
Trump, a one-time television reality show host who has never held elective office, had not previously laid out his foreign policy goals in a comprehensive way. But in a 38-minute speech at a Washington hotel, he attacked President Barack Obama's handling of U.S. foreign affairs and decisions made by his one-time top diplomat, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton is the likely Democratic presidential candidate who would face Trump if he is the Republican nominee in November's national election.
Trump charged that Obama and Clinton have overseen a "reckless, rudderless and aimless" foreign policy. He said there is "no vision, no purpose, no direction, no strategy."
The White House immediately dismissed Trump's broadside, saying that the United States is "safer and stronger" than when Obama took office in 2009.
Watch more of Donald Trump's speech
Trump also blamed, without naming him, the policies of President George W. Bush that led to the years-long war in Iraq after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
Islamic State 'will be gone'
Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul who is closing in on the Republican presidential nomination but has yet to clinch it, said that U.S. mistakes in the Mideast "began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western democracy. We tore up what institutions they had and then we we were surprised at what we had unleashed: civil war, religious fanaticism, thousands of Americans just killed, lives, lives, lives wasted, horribly wasted."
He vowed that if he is elected president and replaces Obama when he leaves office in January he would destroy Islamic State insurgents in the Mideast, referring to them by one of their acronyms, ISIS.
"ISIS will be gone," Trump said. "ISIS will be gone very, very quickly."
Trump said he is the only U.S. presidential candidate "who knows how" to improve the country's chronic trade deficit. He said U.S. rivals "don't take us seriously," mocking the fact that foreign leaders did not greet Obama at airports as he arrived for recent state visits in Cuba and Saudi Arabia.
"America is going to be strong again," Trump said. "It is going to be reliable again. It is going to be a friend again."
Shortly before Trump's speech at Washington's Mayflower Hotel, a protester was evicted. Those who heard his speech greeted it with occasional polite applause.
In months of campaigning for the Republican nomination, Trump has often mentioned some specific measures he would undertake, saying he would build an impenetrable wall along the Mexican border to halt the illegal stream of migrants into the United States, deport the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. But he did not specifically mention any of them Wednesday.
At various times, he has said he would renegotiate an international agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program, pursue better European and Pacific trade deals than those negotiated by Obama and rethink U.S. involvement in NATO, the West's military alliance since the end of World War II.
Watch: Related TV report by Katherine Gypson.