Sunday, July 01, 2018

Trump said “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.” That’s scary.

Why Trump’s anti-NATO comment is both unsurprising and horrifying.

By Alex  Jun 28, 2018, 1:30pm EDT

During this month’s gathering of the Group of Seven — the seven countries with the largest economies in the world — Trump reportedly railed against prominent US allies. In particular, he criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — a decades-long military alliance between the US, Canada, and European nations.

“NATO is as bad as NAFTA,” Trump told G7 leaders in Canada, according to a report by Axios. “It’s much too costly for the US.”

That’s a striking thing to have said ahead of July’s NATO summit in Brussels, where Trump and 28 US allies will meet to discuss threats to Europe — and in particular, Russia. (On Thursday, the White House confirmed that Trump will also meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, four days after the NATO summit concludes.)

Experts have roundly criticized Trump’s G7 meeting comment because it breaks with longstanding decision of support for the alliance — while lumping NATO together with a trade deal (NAFTA) that Trump hates. “That’s an unfortunate comparison,” Magnus Nordenman, a European security expert at the Atlantic Council think tank, told me.

The president’s comment is not terribly surprising — but wholly alarming
Trump has spent his year and a half in office reneging on America’s multilateral commitments, such as removing the US from the Iran nuclear deal in May. And NATO has clearly failed to escape Trump’s ire.

In May 2017 Trump failed to commit the US to NATO’s Article 5, which says an attack on one ally is an attack on all. (The following month he did commit to the common-defense provision in an impromptu comment at a White House press conference.) Trump’s tepid support has led some European allies to question if the US would come to their aid if, say, Russia attacked them.

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