Trump’s Unconventional Path To The NATO Summit


Isaac Park Freelance Writer
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During the election, President Trump’s opponents have questioned his comments on NATO. However, he deserves credit for being consistent in his advocacy for our allies to pay their fair share. The U.S. simply cannot continue to bear the burden on its own. While past administrations have attempted the same feat, Trump has asserted this message in his own unconventionally effective way. Perhaps Trump’s frank approach is needed to get this message across.

Trump realizes the importance of NATO, and his Administration has been unequivocal in its support to the alliance.  At the same time, he also has made it clear that he has no intention of letting the U.S. bear NATO’s burden on its own. He didn’t hesitate to corner Italy’s Prime Minister to reaffirm his country’s commitments.  He also made sure that the Prime Minister knows that he will be getting a follow up call to check on progress.  Trump also called on Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel – using his beloved Twitter account – for her country to contribute more to the alliance.

Trump has demonstrated through every foreign policy action that he will defend American interests, and that of its real allies.  Simultaneously he has demonstrated an unexpected ability to distinguish real allies from Putin’s agents that are cloaked in allied flags.  Recently he disinvited Czech President Milos Zeman and Minister of Finance Andrej Babis to the Oval Office, although Zeman had claimed for months that he was invited for a state visit.  Zeman has been identified by The Washington Post as Putin’s mouthpiece in Europe, and his senior advisor Martin Nejedly has been identified by the New York Times as Putin’s money man in Europe. Nejedly and Czech Ambassador to Washington Hynek Kmonicek both are now under intense scrutiny, because they were the coordinators of a farcical attempt to crash the White House that would have had deadly repercussions for bilateral relations.

The Czech Finance Minister had Russia-connected problems of his own.   Both he and Zeman are good friends of Vladimir Putin, but not friends of Donald Trump.  In an emotional attempt to hide the shame of not being received in the Oval Office, Minister Babis expressed his dislike of Trump, and revealed that his agenda included a desire to exploit the Czech heritage of the President’s children in helicopter acquisition negotiations.  Trump and his advisors saw through the attempt by Zeman and Babis to create a propaganda victory for the Kremlin, and closed the White House doors firmly to them.

Trump also has not been afraid to change strategy in order to achieve results.  After meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, he had the courage to stand up and adjust his view of NATO.  He praised the transatlantic alliance and its members’ renewed attention to preparation, thus making his push for European commitments to collective defense even stronger.

Commentators criticize Trump for his lack of manners, but completely ignore the dogged determination of the President to strengthen the NATO alliance and for European allies to share the burden.  And since nice manners by previous Presidents have not proven effective, Trump’s tactic deserves the benefit of the doubt.  The dogged persistence and unapologetic pursuit of American interests alone deserves praise.  He should continue this unashamed insistence on burden-sharing at the NATO Summit in Brussels later this month.

Trump is not a politician. He makes decisions and takes actions that conventional politicians would never do.  Perhaps his unconventional message and approach are what is needed to strengthen NATO. Our transatlantic partners need to realize there is great opportunity with Trump, but they themselves must be willing to make their own hard decisions. The world will be watching what the Europeans say at the NATO Summit, and what they do after they return home.

Isaac Park is a business analyst with a background in national security studies. The views expressed are his own.