Donald Trump continued publicly fleshing out his emerging foreign policy positions on Saturday evening, telling supporters at a Wisconsin rally that the United States could easily fare well in the geopolitical arena without the benefit of NATO. His comments followed a recurring theme of recent weeks in which Trump has roundly criticized member nations of the strategic alliance by suggesting that they don’t shoulder an adequate share of the endeavor’s financial burden. Portions of his remarks from Racine were transcribed by The New York Times.
“…[W]e are protecting them, giving them military protection and other things, and they’re ripping off the United States,” Trump said at a campaign event in Racine. “And you know what we do? Nothing…. Either they have to pay up for past deficiencies or they have to get out… And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.”
Trump noted that NATO’s purpose at inception was ostensibly to stem any potential aggression by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Referencing the fact that the U.S.S.R. disbanded decades ago, the Republican front-runner suggested that the alliance has outlived its usefulness.
According to NATO’s official web site, the organization is currently comprised of 28 member nations, including a number of former communist bloc countries in Eastern Europe. NATO force attacked Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More recently, the United States dispatched F-16 planes to a NATO staging facility in Iceland as part of a continuing effort to insure a “free and ‘secure’ Europe,” as reported by CNN.
In addition to criticizing NATO, Donald Trump also questioned the purpose of the United Nations on Saturday, mentioning the international forum at an event in Wausau.
“Where do you ever see the United Nations?” Trump asked rhetorically. “Do they ever settle anything? It’s just like a political game. The United Nations — I mean the money we spend on the United Nations.”
Trump’s comments come a day after former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hailed the billionaire candidate’s vision regarding geopolitics.
“Only Trump rationally about military threats,” Sarah Palin said at a GOP event in Wisconsin. As noted by Inquisitr, Wall Street Journal reporter Reid J. Epstein said that the comment drew laughs from the Republican audience.
Donald Trump’s stance about NATO has drawn shock and criticism from his political rivals, who have seized upon the comments to bolster assertions that the Republican front-runner knows little about international relations. Earlier in the week, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Trump of pushing for the withdrawal of United States forces from NATO.
Current representatives of American’s military have also pushed back against Donald Trump’s NATO-related talking points. As noted in an Associate Press Report published by Wisconsin-based station WEAU, Defense Secretary Ash Carter responded to Trump’s comments by citing the alliance’s ongoing work in a number of regions. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford also addressed concerns about the organization, stating that “the relevance of NATO is not at all in question.”
European leaders have also spoken out in opposition to Donald Trump’s continued denigration of the 66-year old NATO pact. A report by Politico quoted Polish President Andrzej Duda who reminded that the United States has vital interests in Europe that could be threatened by Russia.
It is worth noting that The Washington Post recently fact-checked Donald Trump‘s claims that the United States pays “the lion’s share” of NATO’s operational expenses, concluding that the country’s expenditures are not disproportionate to those of other member nations when gross national income is used as a point of comparison. Moreover, Donald Trump’s comment that the United States pays “billions and billions” towards NATO is not an accurate representation of annual expenditures, as budget documents indicate that America’s “annual direct contribution” is less than $500 million.
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