Donald Trump Considers NATO Withdrawal Once Again – Donald Trump is reportedly considering options as to how to put the United States out of NATO in the event of a second term in office.
The Republican frontrunner toyed with the idea during his first presidency, threatening to pull the nation out of the military alliance designed to counter Russian aggression. Trump repeatedly criticized Western allies for their lack of defense spending, and questioned the NATO policy that an attack on one member is an attack on all.
The latter clause, known as Article 5, was a repeated focus for the then-President. Sources told the Rolling Stone that in mid-2018, while reading a list of smaller NATO countries, Trump scoffed at the idea of “starting World War III” over some of these countries’ sovereignty which he claimed most Americans had never even heard of before.
The Rolling Stone reports that Trump has privately discussed the military alliance with officials, claiming he does not want his second administration to be filled with “NATO lovers,” according to two sources who’ve heard such comments.
Amid Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the former president has expressed an openness to pulling the U.S. out of NATO altogether. However, he’s reportedly said this could be averted if non-American members increased their defense funding, and Article 5 is reconsidered.
Of course, such threats will only come to fruition if Trump is elected in 2024. “It would be a tremendously stupid endeavor, especially at a time when war in Europe rages, and much of Europe is looking to the United States to deter further conflict,” said Dr. Aaron Stein, a Black Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. “Trading away allies based on ignorance, and Trump is ignorant about this issue, is just silly for broader U.S. national security.”
Confusion Over Funding
During his first term in office, Trump repeatedly misunderstood the purpose of NATO’s collective spending agreements, which requires each member to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense. Instead, Trump said of the alliance as a protection racket, in which members’ spending obligations were sent to the U.S. rather than as a general requirement for countries to spend in line with their own policies.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, wrote in his memoir that he “could never tell” if the then-President truly understood NATO’s defense spending requirements. As part of the memoir, Bolton recalled a number of attempts by Trump to either reduce U.S. funding or even leave the alliance, only to be talked down on by staff.
“In a second Trump term, we’d almost certainly withdraw from NATO,” Bolton told The Hill earlier this year.
A Congressional amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act since introduced prohibits any president from withdrawing from NATO without approval from two-thirds of the Senate. An unlikely prospect, unfortunately for Trump, but he will still be able to publicly criticize the alliance and threaten the existing security guarantees if his demands were not met.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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