It’s Donald Trump’s big day, the night he accepts the Republican nomination for president, and for some inexplicable reason he stepped on his own headlines by giving a controversial interview with The New York Times. In it, Trump appeared to offer weak defense of NATO, the important military alliance that has kept Western unity together.
Trump said America shouldn’t automatically come to the defense of fellow NATO members if they are attacked. He suggested that if they hadn’t paid their bills they are on their own, even though the NATO charter requires members to come to the defense of any nation under assault.
“Comments like this are not only ill-informed, they’re dangerous,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger at a POLITICO event. “It’s utterly disastrous. You have allies right now, I mean I have friends that serve in parliament in places like Estonia, that everyday worry about the Russians deciding that this is the time to re-annex and take them back.”
Like many Republicans, Kinzinger is still unsure whether he’ll vote for Trump this November. He worries about the perception that Trump is a big fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin, something the Hillary Clinton campaign has pushed for months.
“I call it a narcissistic foreign policy from Donald Trump, and it’s the idea that, you know, the world needs us. If we’re going to be in Korea or we’re going to have troops in Germany, they need to pay us for this,” said Kinzinger. “As a military soldier, a pilot, I’m offended by the idea that I’m some kind of a protection racket that has to be paid to protect our allies, or I’m some kind of a mercenary force.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he “totally disagrees” with Trump’s suggestion that U.S. support could be conditional.
“NATO is the most important military alliance in world history,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I want to reassure our NATO allies that if any of them get attacked, we’ll be there to defend them.”
Two more Republican senators blasted Trump’s position.
“As Mr. Putin revives Soviet-style aggression and the threat of violent Islam looms over European and American cities, the United States stands with our NATO allies,” said Sen. Ben Sasse.
“I can only imagine how our allies in NATO, particularly the Balkan states, must feel after reading these comments from Mr. Trump,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “I’m 100 percent certain how Russian President Putin feels — he’s a very happy man.”
NATO leaders were also quick to oppose Trump’s comments.
“Solidarity among Allies is a key value for NATO,” said Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Two world wars have shown that peace in Europe is also important for the security of the United States.”