Trump Threatens To Withdraw From NATO ‘Furious At Media Coverage’ Of First Day

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Donald Trump...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump seems bound and determined to incite an international crisis with our allies no matter what. He has been agitating about NATO, “you’ve got to start paying your bills,” and he makes no bones about how much he dislikes the European Union, which he says is “worse than China.” Before the NATO summit European countries were told to prepare for worse case scenarios and Trump may attempt to pull out of NATO despite an overwhelming Senate vote of 97-2 not to do anything of the sort. He said, “I think I can,” when asked if he could withdraw without Congressional approval. Politico:

Trump warned of “grave consequences” if allies do not immediately meet higher spending targets, derailing a morning meeting of NATO leaders with the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine on the second day of a NATO leaders’ summit on Thursday. One NATO official said Trump wants a plan from alliance members by January on how to reach the spending target.

Some officials urged caution in interpreting Trump’s remarks, but say allies clearly heard a threat. Word of Trump’s threat set off a wild game of telephone at NATO headquarters as officials and reporters tried to sort out what exactly Trump told fellow leaders. Two common versions, according to officials briefed, were if allies don’t pay up, the U.S. “will do our own thing” or “go it alone.”

It’s well known that NATO does not owe the US anything and that NATO countries have been increasing their defense budgets since 2014. But that’s neither here nor there, Trump’s obligation is not to this country or it’s allies, his only obligation is to convince his base of this false narrative and that’s what he’s doing. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg immediately shifted the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the alliance’s top political body, into an allies-only emergency session, and partners left the room. Then Trump demanded to hold a press conference.

NATO officials said Trump was furious over media coverage suggesting that the first day of the summit had proceeded calmly, and that he had demanded to hold a press conference immediately after the morning meeting. […]

Later at a press conference, Trump did not respond to a question about whether he had threatened to pull the U.S. out of NATO. Instead, he answered another part of the question, which asked if he could pull out without congressional approval. He said: “I think I can.”

There is little question in anyone’s mind but that Trump intends to inflict some damage here, and he made it clear he wouldn’t be changing his mind about what he had said earlier.

The adults are clearly trying to keep a lid on things. Trump’s betrayal at NATO makes things particularly difficult for the UK. With the U.K. leaving the EU, NATO is the central pillar of Britain’s security set up. It depends upon NATO to counter threats from Moscow, but we know where Trump’s loyalties lie, don’t we?

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