Trump’s NATO Remarks ‘Undermine All of Our Security,’ Alliance Chief Says

Former President Donald Trump suggested the United States may not protect NATO countries if they do not meet their defense spending targets.

European leaders appeared flustered after former President Donald Trump suggested he may not uphold America’s commitments toward certain NATO nations, with the military alliance’s chief warning that such rhetoric puts the West’s security at risk.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk. I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the United States will remain a strong and committed NATO ally,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on Sunday, according to The Guardian. He affirmed that attacks on NATO would be met with a “united and forceful response” and that the coalition remains “ready and able to defend all allies.”

The NATO chief’s statements came after President Trump suggested in a rally on Saturday that members who do not meet the group’s 2 percent defense spending target would not be protected by the United States once he assumes office.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay, and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’ I said, ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills,” President Trump said at the rally.

According to a 2023 NATO report, only seven out of 31 allies met the 2 percent GDP spending target on defense in 2022.

Responding to President Trump’s comments, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, defense minister of Poland, said in a Feb. 11 post on X (formerly Twiter), “NATO’s motto ‘one for all, all for one’ is a concrete commitment. Undermining the credibility of allied countries means weakening the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organization. No election campaign is an excuse for playing with the security of the alliance.”

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At the core of the NATO alliance is the agreement that an attack on one member is an attack on all.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, pointed out in an X post that the NATO alliance “has underpinned the security and the prosperity of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans for 75 years.”

“Reckless statements on #NATO’s security and Art 5 solidarity serve only Putin’s interest. They do not bring more security or peace to the world. On the contrary, they reemphasize the need for the #EU to urgently further develop its strategic autonomy and invest in its defense. And to keep our Alliance strong.”

Russia has not responded to the statements.

GOP Response

Republicans are divided over President Trump’s NATO comments, with some criticizing his position.

In an interview with CBS, GOP presidential challenger Nikki Haley said, “What bothers me about this is, don’t take the side of a thug who kills his opponents … the last thing we ever want to do is side with Russia. What we always need to remember is that America needs to have friends.”

Speaking to Reuters, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he disagrees with the “way he [Trump] said it.” However, Russia “didn’t invade anybody” during the Trump presidency, the senator noted. “And if he’s president again they won’t.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called Trump’s NATO comments a “stupid thing to say,” according to Politico. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said the statements were “uncalled for.”

During an interview with CNN, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) dismissed the criticism, pointing out that “he’s not the first American president, in fact, virtually every American president at some point in some way has complained about other countries in NATO not doing enough.”

“You know, Trump’s just the first one to express it in these terms, but I have zero concern because he’s been president before, I know exactly what he has done and will do with the NATO alliance. But there has to be an alliance. It’s not America’s defense with a bunch of small junior partners.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) criticized NATO nations in an interview with The New York Times. “NATO countries that don’t spend enough on defense, like Germany, are already encouraging Russian aggression and President Trump is simply ringing the warning bell,” he said.

“Strength, not weakness, deters aggression. Russia invaded Ukraine twice under Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but not under Donald Trump.”

Dr. Patrick Bury, a defense and security expert, and former NATO analyst, told the BBC that President Trump’s comments only reflected anger in the United States about European nations not spending their fair share on defense.

“Playing hardball with NATO allies is correct, but it all depends on how far you go. These comments are too far, really.” Such statements can have an impact on the current global situation where Russia is on a war footing and its military spending far exceeds that of European nations, he said.

“If Trump is in the White House and there was a split in NATO either over Ukraine … or about how it would respond to a small incursion that should in theory trigger article five. That’s where the NATO alliance is worried are these what-ifs.”

A 2023 NATO report shows that the United States “accounted for 54 percent of the Allies’ combined GDP and 70 percent of combined defense expenditure.”

As of April 2023, the United States made up 16.19 percent of NATO’s budget and was the top joint contributor along with Germany, which also accounted for the same share.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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