On Monday, former President Donald Trump explained his stance on NATO after drawing controversy with a story about how he used hardball tactics to negotiate with other world leaders on supporting the alliance.
A statement posted to Truth Social talked about how Trump, who is seeking a second term in the White House, argued how member nations contribute more to NATO’s collective defense with a strong U.S. leader pushing them to meet the 2% minimum GDP defense investment guideline.
“When I told the 20 Countries that weren’t paying their fair share that they had to PAY UP, and said without doing that you will not have U.S. Military Protection, the money came rolling in,” Trump said after an opening line claiming that his critics acknowledge how “STRONG” he made NATO.
“After so many years of the United States picking up the tab, it was a beautiful sight to see. But now, without me there to say YOU MUST PAY, they are at it again. We are into helping Ukraine for more than 100 Billion Dollars more than NATO,” he continued, alluding to U.S. support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.
“We have nobody that they respect, and they insist on paying far less than we do. Wrong, NATO HAS TO EQUALIZE, AND NOW. THEY WILL DO THAT IF PROPERLY ASKED. IF NOT, AMERICA FIRST! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Trump said.
The social media post came as Trump faced blowback after telling a story at an event in South Carolina on Saturday about how NATO was “busted” until he got allied countries to increase their defense spending under pressure to do more to assist the United States in propping up the collective.
“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’ I said, you didn’t pay? You’re delinquent? He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay,” Trump said.
Some took Trump’s comments as suggesting he would allow the United States to neglect its Article 5 duties and even take Russia’s side in the event of an attack on a NATO ally.
“The promise of NATO – that an attack on one is an attack on all – keeps American families safe,” President Joe Biden, who is also seeking a second term in the 2024 election, said in a post to X. “It’s that simple. Any individual who calls into question the durability of that vow is a danger to our security.”
Although data released last summer showed only one-third of NATO allies were on pace to reach their spending target, a White House spokesman argued the alliance is “more relevant” and “stronger” under Biden as the collective “is right at the forefront of that when it comes to the security environment on the continent of Europe.”
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Trump’s last-remaining rival in the GOP primary contest who served as his ambassador to the United Nations, said on CBS, “The last thing we ever want to do is side with Russia.”
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