I would end US protection of Nato: Trump
Published 22/07/2016 | 02:30
Allies of the United States reacted with alarm yesterday as Donald Trump threatened to undermine the post-Second World War global order by not honouring US obligations to Nato if he becomes president.
Mr Trump was accused of recklessness and making Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, a "very happy man" after indicating he would not guarantee to unconditionally protect fellow members of the military alliance.
His latest foreign policy bombshell came as the billionaire last night accepted the Republican Party's nomination for president.
Mr Trump set out a vision called "America First" in which he would view the world through a "clear lens of American interest".
The White House was forced to reassure allies that the US commitment to Nato was "ironclad", while the head of the alliance called for "solidarity".
Mr Trump's comments were made in an interview with 'The New York Times'.
Asked whether the US, under his leadership, would assist the Baltic countries if they were threatened by Russia, he said it would "if they fulfil their obligations to us". Mr Trump also said the US was not being "properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost" of protecting allies around the world, many of which were "extremely rich".
He said if that did not change then "I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries 'Congratulations, you will be defending yourselves'".
Nato was created after the Second World War to strengthen international cooperation as a counterbalance to the rise of the Soviet Union.
The US was a founding member and, under Article 5 of the treaty, its 28 members are obliged to come to the help of any fellow member attacked. Two years ago Nato created a rapid-reaction force to protect its most vulnerable members against Russia.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "Solidarity among allies is a key value for Nato. We defend one another."
Ojars Kalnins, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Latvia's parliament, called Mr Trump's reluctance to guarantee protection of the Baltic states "dangerous and irresponsible".
Bohuslav Sobotka, the Czech prime minister, said: "Nato is the basis for our security." He said he hoped that "whoever wins the presidential election, I hope the United States will remain a solid Nato partner". In Washington, Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said: "There should be no mistake or miscalculation made about this country's commitment toward the trans-Atlantic alliance."
Mr Trump's comments were in line with his views questioning the traditional US global role.
The billionaire has vowed to make Nato allies not spending the required 2pc of gross domestic product on defence "pay their fair share" and swiftly call a summit if he is elected.
However, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and Mr Trump's running mate, said: "I have every confidence that Donald Trump will see to it that the United States of America stands by our allies and lives up to our treaty obligations."
Jake Sullivan, Hillary Clinton's policy adviser, said: "The president is supposed to be the leader of the free world. Donald Trump apparently doesn't even believe in the free world. Ronald Reagan would be ashamed."
Mr Sullivan said the Kremlin would be "rooting" for Mr Trump to reach the White House. Putin has previously called Mr Trump an "absolute leader", which the Republican nominee said was a "great honour".
(©Daily Telegraph, London)