According to a new report by The New York Times, President Donald Trump tried on multiple occasions to force the United States to withdraw from NATO — a maneuver that would roil the global community and signal a major victory for Russia.
The Times reported on Tuesday that in 2018, Trump said several times that he wanted to remove the US from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance between the US, Canada, and multiple European countries signed in 1949 to contain Soviet expansionism after World War II.
Trump has made no secret of his disdain for NATO, which he once declared was “obsolete.”
According to the Times, his repeated attempts to withdraw from NATO have rattled administration officials, especially as concerns about his interactions with Russia and President Vladimir Putin grow.
The report details officials’ efforts to keep Trump contained during the NATO summit in Brussels last July, including pushing ambassadors to finish an agreement on several goals before the meeting to “shield it” from Trump. He discussed internal business in front of nonmembers of NATO, bucking protocol, and complained — as he often does publicly — that NATO members aren’t spending enough on defense.
As noted by The Times, Trump’s antipathy toward NATO is a good thing for Russia. Moscow benefits from divides between the US and Europe, and Putin has been trying to undermine ties between the two for years.
With the exit of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in December, the situation has become worse, not better. In his resignation letter, Mattis wrote that he believes the United States’ strength is “inextricably linked” to the strength of the country’s “unique and comprehensive system of alliances.” He specifically invoked NATO and pointed out that the 29 countries in the alliance at that time came to America’s defense after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
You can read the entire report here.