Donald Trump’s eye-popping declaration that the United tates may not be automatically bound by the NATO pledge to consider an attack on one country to be an attack on all is reverberating around the world.
Former deputy director for policy planning in the State Department in the George W. Bush administration, Kori Schake (who, although a Republican, recently announced she would back Hillary Clinton), told The Washington Post, “His endorsements of authoritarians and heedlessness about our alliance commitments strengthen our adversaries and frighten those who look to us for protection and to be a beacon of our values. America would be a worse place and the international order badly destabilized by his election.” Schake, now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, adds, “He doesn’t seem to care that there are real consequences to others for the reckless things he says and does.”
Trump opponent Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pointed out that the Trump interview with The New York Times makes Russian President Vladimir Putin “a very happy man.”
The consequences in this case are immediate. Ana Catuna, adviser to the former minister of foreign affairs of Romania, tells The Washington Post’s Right Turn, “NATO is one of the few institutions that bond America and Europe together. It needs fixing and a better burden-sharing, but alluding to its irrelevance is an open invitation for Russia and other global competitors of the Western democracies ?to redouble their efforts to redraw the spheres of influence.” She adds, “A weakened NATO is a weakened West, an a weakened West is a weakened America. You don’t make America great again by turning your back to your best and natural allies!” She concludes, “Russia will see this as a gesture of weakness and will act accordingly.”
Estonia’s president has expressed alarm that Trump would undercut the NATO alliance. Another news report tells us: “Eastern European NATO members, long in the habit of accusing Russia of aggressive plans to target them, were apparently given a cold shower by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who cast doubt over Washington’s commitment to defend them.” The report goes on to quote the Czech prime minister, who declared at a news conference, “NATO is the basis of our security. I expect that also in the United States, whoever wins the presidential election, I hope the United States will remain a solid NATO partner.” If so, he had better hope Trump loses.
Latvia, another Baltic state living with the Russian bear at its doorstep, responded as well. Bloomberg News reports: “Trump’s remarks are ’both dangerous and irresponsible,’ Ojars Kalnins, who chairs the foreign affairs committee in Latvia’s parliament, said in an interview with Latvian radio Thursday. This won’t be good for NATO unity or the security situation. In principle, he is saying the U.S. will not fulfill its promises or obligations.”
The Associated Press reports that the head of NATO was alarmed: “The dilution of long-standing policy on NATO earned Trump a rebuke from the alliance’s head, Jens Stoltenberg, its secretary-general. He told BuzzFeed News: ’Solidarity among allies is a key value for NATO. This is good for European security and good for US security. We defend one another.’ “
Thorsten Frei, a member of the German parliament, tells Right Turn that “it is absolutely unacceptable if an American presidential candidate implicitly announces to discontinue the willingness to help in case of alliance. Who talks like that, constitutes NATO fundamentally in question? That is a fatal signal to Putin and will certainly not help to make the world safer.”
In sum, even before leaving Cleveland, Trump has set off an international furor, shed doubt on his competency and proved Hillary Clinton correct: He is too dangerous, erratic and ignorant to be president.
Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.