To Learn President Trump’s Thinking On NATO, Look No Further Than 2016 Debates/ Interviews

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TRUMP/ CLINTON

Once upon a time in 2016 the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton challenged her opponent, the republican presidential contender Donald Trump on the point that he was looking to exit from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

He denied this claim during the campaign, but he consistently brought up two issues which he still refers to, even on the 11th of July 2018. These assertions include that the NATO member countries have to pay a greater portion of its expenses which these countries’ officials are in the process of doing. The other was the question mark as to why was the US as part of NATO, was supporting and aligning with a country like Ukraine against Russia’s expansionist impulses, as when Russia invaded unprovoked Ukraine in 2014, and then annexed Crimea which was challenged by NATO. Based on Russia’s aggressive adventures, the US and our allies imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014, whereupon Russia left the G8 countries which is now the G7.

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Knowing this background is important because it helps bolster my contention that the republican President Donald Trump should not be permitted to follow up on his plans to have a one-on-one meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin without a credible witness and/ or note taker.

It has been my long-held suspicion that President Trump has been showing all the signs of acting like a Russian asset.

See: Opinion | Why Does Trump Ignore Top Officials’ Warnings on Russia /NYT

See: Opinion | Why Is Trump So Afraid of Russia? – The New York Time

The GOP enablers in the US Congress keep pointing to the fact that the president has taken tough steps to counter Russia. But even when he acted, as when he imposed US sanctions on Russia because of its chemical attack of two peoples in UK, the president could be heard screaming a mile away because he had agreed to the sanctions in error. Then he withdrew from issuing more sanctions that his United Nations’ambassador had already announced. The US military weaponry sold to Ukraine was done only to keep its officials from agreeing to assist the FBI in its Trump-Russia probe.

See: Russia Is Still Attacking US Democracy/ President And GOP /GrondaMorin

See: Trump puts the brakes on new Russian sanctions/ Washington Post

See: See: Ukraine Stopped Helping Mueller Probe After Trump Administration Gave It Weapons/ Newsweek

I am worried that President Trump could end up doing a repeat performance as what he did at the June 2018 summit between him and the N Korean leader Kim Jong-un, where to the complete surprise of ALL his advisers and allies, he proceeded to announce the cessation of  US /S Korean and allies’ joint military exercises in South Korea without anything of substance in return. This action was done at the behest of Russia. What more could President Trump deliver to President Putin in their upcoming tete-a-tete in mid July 2018?

See: Why US Allies Are Worried About US President At NATO Conference /GrondaMorin

Here is the rest of the story…

On May 11, 2016 D’ Angelo Gore of FactCheck.org penned the following report, “What’s Trump’s Position on NATO?”

Excerpts:

“(President) Trump has been critical of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was established in 1949 by the U.S., Canada and 10 Western European nations to defend against the former Soviet Union. Trump’s main criticisms of NATO, which now has 28 member nations, are that the alliance no longer serves its founding purpose and that it is too costly to the U.S., which pays about 22 percent of direct spending by NATO, the most of any nation, according to budget information. The U.S. also pays a much larger portion of the organization’s indirect costs, NATO says.”

“During a campaign speech in Milwaukee on March 28, Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, said that Trump “wants us to pull out of NATO.” That was the week after Trump, during campaign events and interviews with the editorial boards of the Washington Post and the New York Times and others, talked about the U.S. role in NATO.”

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“In an interview with CBS News’ John Dickerson that aired May 8, Clinton again claimed that Trump, whom she referred to as a “loose cannon,” wants out of NATO.”

“Clinton, May 8: Being a loose cannon is saying we should pull out of NATO, the strongest military alliance in the history of the world and something that we really need to modernize, but not abandon.”

“While Trump has gone so far as saying that, as president, he would consider pulling the U.S. out of NATO if it is not restructured, we’ve found no instance of him saying he wants to do so at this point. ”

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NATO from the Cold War to Today: Defending Democracy in Europe By Encyclopaedia Britannica, adapted by Newsela staff 06/14/2017 Word Count 642 U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs a proclamation declaring into effect the 12-nation Atlantic Pact binding North America and Western Europe in a common defense alliance. AP Photo by: Byron Rollins U.S. President Harry S. Truman signs a proclamation declaring into effect the 12-nation Atlantic Pact binding North America and Western Europe in a common defense alliance. AP Photo by: Byron Rollins

“In fact, it was during the interview with the Post, which initially brought attention to Trump’s feelings about NATO, that Trump said that he doesn’t want the U.S. to leave the alliance.”

“Charles Lane, Washington Post, March 21: So, I’d like to hear you say very specifically, you know, with respect to NATO, what is your ask of these other countries? Right, you’ve painted it in very broad terms, but do you have a percent of GDP that they should be spending on defense? Tell me more, because it sounds like you want to just pull the U.S. out.”

“Trump: No, I don’t want to pull it out. NATO was set up at a different time. NATO was set up when we were a richer country. We’re not a rich country anymore. We’re borrowing, we’re borrowing all of this money. We’re borrowing money from China, which is sort of an amazing situation. But it was a much different thing. NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO but we’re spending a lot of money. Number one, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed. I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved.”

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“Later on March 21, during a CNN town hall event with Wolf Blitzer, Trump said the U.S. should “reconsider” its role in NATO, especially with concern to how much it spends compared with other nations.”

Blitzer: “Do you think the United States needs to rethink U.S. involvement in NATO?”

Trump: “Yes, because it’s costing us too much money. And frankly they have to put up more money. They’re going to have to put some up also. We’re paying disproportionately. It’s too much. And frankly it’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea. And everybody got together.”

“But we’re taking care of, as an example, the Ukraine. I mean, the countries over there don’t seem to be so interested. We’re the ones taking the brunt of it. So I think we have to reconsider keep NATO, but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward the NATO itself.”

Blitzer: “When we say keep NATO, NATO has been around since right after World War II in 1949. It’s been a cornerstone of U.S. national security around the world. NATO allies hear you say that, they’re not going to be happy.”

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President Harry Truman after proudly signing NATO Treaty, 1949

Trump: “Well, they may not be happy but, you know, they have to help us also. It has to be — we are paying disproportionately. And very importantly if you use Ukraine as an example and that’s a great example, the country surrounding Ukraine, I mean, they don’t seem to care as much about it as we do. So there has to be at least a change in philosophy and there are also has to be a change in the cut out, the money, the spread because it’s too much.”

Blitzer: “So you’re really suggesting the United States should decrease its role in NATO?”

Trump: “Not decrease its role but certainly decrease the kind of spending. We are spending a tremendous amount in NATO and other people proportionately less. No good.”

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“Then, on March 25, in an interview with the New York Times editorial board, Trump again said that NATO needed to be “changed” to deal with costs and other issues, such as terrorism.”

Trump, March 25: “I’ll tell you the problems I have with NATO. Number one, we pay far too much. We are spending — you know, in fact, they’re even making it so the percentages are greater. NATO is unfair, economically, to us, to the United States. Because it really helps them more so than the United States, and we pay a disproportionate share. Now, I’m a person that — you notice I talk about economics quite a bit, in these military situations, because it is about economics, because we don’t have money anymore because we’ve been taking care of so many people in so many different forms that we don’t have money — and countries, and countries. So NATO is something that at the time was excellent. Today, it has to be changed.”

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“It was on March 23, during an interview with Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, that Trump, when asked, said he would “certainly look at” getting rid of NATO because it “may be obsolete.”

Halperin, March 23: “Should America be the leader of NATO or not necessarily?”

Trump:” I think NATO may be obsolete. NATO was set up a long time ago — many, many years ago when things were different. Things are different now. We were a rich nation then. We had nothing but money. We had nothing but power. And you know, far more than we have today, in a true sense. And I think NATO — you have to really examine NATO. And it doesn’t really help us, it’s helping other countries. And I don’t think those other countries appreciate what we’re doing.”

Heilemann: “So, just to be clear, you made two slightly different arguments there and I just want to clarify. One of them is that you might want to see the U.S. pay less money into NATO because …”

Trump: “That one definitely. That one definitely.”

Heilemann: But it’s possible that NATO is obsolete and should be gotten rid of?

Trump: “It’s possible. It’s possible. I would certainly look at it. And I’d want more help from other people. The one thing definitely — we’re paying too much. As to whether or not it’s obsolete, I’ll make that determination.”

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“Then, at a campaign rally in Milwaukee on April 4, Trump said that he wasn’t saying that NATO should disband during his interview with CNN’s Blitzer. Instead, he said he meant that if countries “can’t pay their bills … they’ve got to go.”

“Trump, April 4: And Wolf Blitzer asked me a question on television. He said, let me just ask you about NATO. And he asked me about it. Now, I haven’t been asked about NATO a lot, but I understand NATO and I understand common sense and I’m, like, a smart person, like many of the people in this room, hopefully all of the people in this room.”

“But he asked me about NATO. I said it’s obsolete. This is my first thing. And you know what? I’m the first one. Guys that study NATO and good people, but they study NATO and they say, I don’t believe it, what he just said, I never thought of that. They study it because they’re so into it that they don’t realize.”

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“Because it was really put there — you had the Soviet Union and now you have Russia, which is different, but Russia is very powerful, so we can sort of say that’s a balance, so we’ll leave it. But it doesn’t really cover terrorism like it’s supposed to. It doesn’t have the right countries. I mean, many of the countries in there aren’t, you know, that you associate with terrorism.”

“And so I said, number one, it’s obsolete. I said, number two, to the best of my knowledge, the United States pays far too much proportionately, and why are we always paying the bills to protect other people?”

“And the press, which is so totally dishonest, the press goes headlines the next day “Trump doesn’t want NATO, wants to disband.” That’s not what I said. I said you’ve got to pay your bills. And you know what? If they can’t pay their bills, honestly there should be — they’ve got to go. Because we can’t do this.”

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“And most recently, in his April 27 foreign policy speech, Trump said that “the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves” if they are unwilling to pay more.”

“Trump, April 27: They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us. In NATO, for instance, only four of 28 other member countries besides America, are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on defense. We have spent trillions of dollars over time on planes, missiles, ships, equipment, building up our military to provide a strong defense for Europe and Asia. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.”

“So, Trump has clearly outlined changes he would like to see made to NATO. And he has said that, under a Trump administration, the U.S. might no longer be a part of the alliance if it isn’t restructured and other nations don’t start to pick up more of the costs. But even that isn’t the same thing as saying that “we should pull out of NATO,” as Clinton claims Trump said.”

13 comments

  1. While it’s painfully obvious that Trump is using expense spending as an excuse to pull out of NATO, we really should question if NATO as an organization is relevant and necessary to justify continuing support. Is NATO’s purpose a mission of peace/ defend from hostile enemies or a vehicle of Western imperialism? Does NATO engage in missions which destabilize nations that stand in our way? Why is the middle east such a mess when NATO forces continually found interfering with their gov’ts politics and sovereignty? Cui Bono?

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-the-u-s-wrecked-the-middle-east/

    Trump should be more straight forward and address the original purpose of NATO, is it fulfilling it’s intended mission, is the US benefiting from this coalition? This is the opportunity he should seize upon!

    Like

      • That is sadly true, Trump is not a competent or articulate representative of the US. His actions are unreasonable, mostly contrary to US security and interests. He’s not as charismatic or smooth as President Obama, which really burns his butt! And he lacks even a modicum of diplomacy or manners. Just sad!

        Like

      • Dear Holly,

        He chooses to be ignorant when it comes to NATO. He is beginning to make even some of his GOP backers in the US Congress nervous for a change. President Trump going rogue is not a pretty picture.

        Hugs, Gronda

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We need to stay in NATO, work with our allies , the few that are left. Once again Trump is leaning toward Russia, Putin could not be more pleased with Trumps stance against our allies. We are headed for big trouble if we continue to let him lead our country. But with a cowardly Republican lead congress he appears unstoppable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Holly,

      In a rare show of standing up for what it is the US best national interests, the US Senate (even republicans) overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring its support for NATO and the US House members are looking to do likewise.

      I am certain that the president is being told by his chief of staff General Kelly, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his Defense Secretary James Mattis and the US NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson that his behaviors were out of line, inappropriate and that he’d better not dare to try to exit NATO.

      But the president has gone rogue, once too often, to where we are all nervous about what he will do next.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear 1EarthUnited,

    This time President Trump has gone too far. Other presidents have encouraged the NATO member nations to contribute more for their defense and so this is not new. President Trump could have taken on the role of having won on this demand as the various countries are agreeing to pay more.

    His rhetoric today has been decried by even the cowardly republicans in the US Congress as the Senate has already passed a resolution with overwhelming support for NATO and the US House republican members are in the process of doing like wise.

    He doesn’t know NATO’s history, in that it was created at the behest of the USA in 1949. The US wanted to create an alliance with European countries where war would not break out in Europe again. The USA uses military bases like in Germany for its equipment so that the US military is able to deploy more quickly to hot spots around the world. The alliance was created to help member countries to display a solidarity of strength against Russian aggression as exemplified by what happened in Ukraine in 2014.

    It is no wonder that the Russian President Putin would love to weaken the power of NATO but if President Trump tries to withdraw, he will regret the political fallout.

    While President Trump does not keep up with history, many Americans do.

    Most of us agree that NATO needs to be modernized to meet the demands of the world as it exists today and that the participating countries need to contribute more monies to their defense. But leaving NATO and embarrassing our allies like he did today, is totally unacceptable.

    Thanks for the reference.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Like

    • Gronda, I would have to respectfully disagree with the Western neo-liberal narrative that Russia “invaded” Crimea in 2014. Funny how during this so-called invasion, not a single Russian soldier stepped foot on Crimean/ Ukrainian land, and not a single shot has been fired!

      Please do your own independent research and not simple believe in Western MSM stories/ propaganda. Crimeans wanted independence from Ukraine by holding an independent referendum:

      A controversial referendum on the status of Crimea was held on March 16, 2014, by the legislature of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and by the local government of Sevastopol (both subdivisions of Ukraine). The referendum requested local populations whether they wanted to join Russia as a federal subject, or if they wanted to restore the 1992 Crimean constitution and Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine. After the events of Euromaidan, the referendum was held but is not internationally recognized by most countries.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_status_referendum,_2014

      The political status of Crimea has been a subject of a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum, and administers it …. took place on 16 March 2014 with 97% of voters choosing to leave Ukraine and join Russia, according to Crimean government results.

      Crimea is predominantly a Russian territory:

      Crimea was part of Russia from 1783, when the Tsarist Empire annexed it a decade after defeating Ottoman forces in the Battle of Kozludzha, until 1954, when the Soviet government transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics (RSFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkrSSR).

      The documents do confirm that the move was originally approved by the Presidium of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on 25 January 1954, paving the way for the authorizing resolution of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet three weeks later. But the declassified files reveal nothing more about the motives for the transfer, leaving us with just the two official rationales that were published in 1954:

      (1) the cession of Crimea was a “noble act on the part of the Russian people” to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the “reunification of Ukraine with Russia” (a reference to the Treaty of Pereyaslav signed in 1654 by representatives of the Ukrainian Cossack Hetmanate and Tsar Aleksei I of Muscovy) and to “evince the boundless trust and love the Russian people feel toward the Ukrainian people”; and

      (2) the transfer was a natural outgrowth of the “territorial proximity of Crimea to Ukraine, the commonalities of their economies, and the close agricultural and cultural ties between the Crimean oblast and the UkrSSS.”

      https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/why-did-russia-give-away-crimea-sixty-years-ago

      During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, local gov’ts did not have a choice with whom they wish to be annexed with. Times were chaotic and the local population had to accept their new country even if they did not identify with the decision of the breakup.

      Crimea was a local vacation resort for the Soviet people b/c of it’s warm southern climate. The population is comprised of 75+ percent Russians, 15% Ukrainians, and 10% Tartars and others. And they all speak Russian and identify with Russian culture and traditions.

      That’s what Trump meant when he garbled: Crimeans belong to Russia b/c they speak Russian. LOL, he did not articulate the rationale very well, but is generally correct in his assessment.

      NATO basically used this as an excuse to slap sanctions and isolate Russia from the world stage.

      Prior to this, President Putin was effusively praised by the West for being such a great leader, and was selected as Person of the Year in 2007!

      https://www.nbcnews.com/video/flashback-president-bush-on-putins-soul-208352323648

      Like

      • Dear !EarthUnited,

        Russian became an independent country in 1991. Remember the story where Mr. Manafort helped get a pro-Russian Candidate elected Viktor Yanukovyc, President of Ukraine in 2010. To win, one of his promises to the people of Ukraine was that he would work to have Ukraine become part of the EU. When the peoples figured out that he was pushing Ukraine towards aligning it with Russia, the peoples rioted and chased him out of town in 2014.

        It just so happens that for military reasons, Putin’s navy needs warm waters in the area which is why he wanted Crimea for his naval base. The US has satellite photos of jeeps, etc, Russian soldiers marching into Ukraine.

        I’m sure some of the residents want to be part of Russia but many don’t.

        I beg to differ with your version of history to where I have to respectfully disagree.

        Hugs, Gronda

        Like

        • Gronda, you are correct to state that Russia wanted Crimea for it’s naval base. Strategically that is the smart thing to do, esp when the majority of the population want to ally itself with Russia, it’s a perfect opportunity to annex it. While true that as soon as the referendum was past, soldiers did come in to reclaim the base and secure the region. But it was not an invasion like Western MSM portrayed it to be. Everything was peaceful and the local population was welcoming.

          Where is your source that state most of the residents didn’t want to join Russia and was forced into submission? I’m open to all possibilities, so far I haven’t seen any reports portraying Crimea as an occupied state. It may not be recognized by Ukraine, but that is to be expected. Thanks for your clarifications!

          Like

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