Trump reverses US stance on NATO

There are several unanswered questions after Trump’s narrow victory, as the controversial candidate’s wide claims have offended and divided people across party lines. Trump’s claims for his presidency range from building a wall across the Mexican border to pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. How Trump will guide the United States in relation to the rest of the world can be seen in part in how he responds to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

NATO was founded in 1949 in Washington, D.C., in response to growing Soviet power after World War II. Under the tenants of the agreement, each country receives the protection of every other, meaning if one country in the alliance is attacked all other countries in the alliance respond in kind with military force. NATO has become particularly important recently as Russia has grown more aggressive toward the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

President Barack Obama, though in the lame duck period of his presidency, has taken efforts to assure the country of Trump’s loyalty to the alliance. In a press conference on Monday, Obama said, of his conversation with Trump, that “he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Trans-Atlantic Alliance,” reported CNN.

Trump has expressed disappointment with the countries involved in NATO in the past. During the election race, Trump gave an interview to the Washington Post in which he said, “We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore. It’s costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but it’s costing us a lot of money.”

Trump says that the United States is pulling more weight than it should be in international protection.

“I think we’re a very powerful, very wealthy country, but we’re a poor country right now. We’re a debtor nation,” Trump said.

Preston Jones, associate professor of history at John Brown University,  said he sees Trump’s complaint to the countries of NATO as one of funding and contribution. “Trump’s basic complaint is that the U.S. provides not only for its own defense but for the defense of many other countries,” Jones said. “Far more than any other country, peace in Europe and east Asia since WWII has been the result of U.S. power.”

Billy Stevenson, director of international admissions and student services, said that the reactions against Trump and his position come from an unstable world economy.

“The world is facing a big economic problem. Growth is slow and in some areas has come to a complete halt. Economies are struggling to maintain growth, countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain and France, just to name a few in the European environment.”

The instability in the world environment, Stevenson says, has encouraged Trump’s positions against globalization and towards protectionism, but Stevenson doesn’t feel that Trump will cause the U.S. to withdraw fully into itself.

“Trump may renegotiate partially some trade deals without being overall protectionist. We will have to wait and see but I am hoping that his economic advisors will keep him right.”

Finally, Stevenson said he isn’t concerned that Trump would cause the U.S. to pull out of NATO entirely. “I don’t think Trump is seriously saying that the U.S. would pull out,
it is more of his strong-arming so that the EU will offer more respect to the U.S. and perhaps to the president-elect. Besides, he would not have the backing from Congress to accomplish such a move.”