GOP presidential Donald Trump said that the United States should “rethink” its relationship with NATO in a Monday meeting The Washington Post’s editorial board.
As Trump put it, the U.S. is carrying all of NATO’s weight in Ukraine in terms of fending off Russian aggression, even though what happens in Ukraine is far less consequential to the U.S. than, say, Germany.
“Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO and yet we’re doing all of the lifting,” Trump said. “They’re not doing anything. And I say, ‘Why is it that Germany’s not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of Ukraine, why aren’t they dealing? Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially, the third world war with Russia.'”
Trump accompanied his suggestion to “rethink” involvement with a concrete recommendation: The U.S. needs to scale back its involvement with NATO, effectively shattering the Washington consensus.
For Trump, part of the reason for withdrawal is the fiscal cost it imposes.
“We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore,” Trump said. “NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.”
Trump has previously bashed Germany for failing to contribute to the effort in Ukraine. In an interview with Chuck Todd in August 2015, Trump said while he didn’t mind helping out in Europe, other countries should be leading first and foremost.
“I’ll be behind them so much,” Trump said. “But why isn’t Germany? Germany’s a very, very powerful, and economically powerful and rich country. Why isn’t Germany, Chuck, leading this charge? Why is the United States? I mean, we’re like the policemen of the world.”
But Trump also said in 2015 he “would not care that much” if Ukraine was admitted to NATO or not.
His reluctance to throw full support behind NATO may be one of the reasons Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Trump as a “bright and talented person.” Trump has also said he would “get along very well” with Putin.
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