Trump Said He Wanted To Leave NATO ‘Multiple Times’ Last Year
President Donald Trump said he wanted the United States to leave NATO on multiple occasions in 2018, according to a new report from the New York Times. Trump previously criticized the organization, which was established after World War II, and claimed other members weren’t pulling their weight.
Trump complained during the 2016 election that America’s NATO allies were taking the country for a ride and not paying their fair share. He particularly targeted Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel. In July 2018, he apparently succeeded in convincing NATO members to increase defense spending.
However, the President does not seem to fully understand how NATO is funded or how the organization functions. NATO members commit to spend a certain percentage of GDP on defense, though most do not meet that requirement for various reasons. It is not the case that the US is funding other members’ expenses.
The report comes hot on the heels of Trump’s threat to devastate the Turkish economy if they attack the Kurds in Syria. Turkey is a key NATO ally and plays a central role in Middle East policy. Trump’s threat to damage the economy of another NATO country is unprecedented.
Trump’s attitude to NATO will raise further questions about his approach to Russia. One of President Vladimir Putin’s major goals has been to break up NATO, thus separating European countries from the US. Two countries invaded by Russia over the last decade – Georgia and Ukraine – were considering NATO membership, though at different stages of accession.
The President has consistently criticized international organizations, but NATO is in many ways the most American of international bodies. Founded in 1949, it was primarily designed to face the growing threat from the Soviet Union, which had seized vast areas in Eastern Europe following the defeat of Nazi Germany.