Donald Trump has taken U.S. policy so far off the deep end that there have been times when the normally bitterly divided Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have been able to come together in opposition. This week has provided one such opportunity; Trump went overseas to a NATO summit where he continued on with his long tradition of antagonizing our allies, and now BOTH the Senate and the House have passed resolutions in support of the alliance.
The U.S. House passed theirs this Wednesday, with not a single member expressing opposition. Two members of the Senate opposed that chamber’s measure; the dissenters were Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
The House resolution identifies the alliance that Trump continues to seek to undermine as “the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe.” The language is in line with comments from members of the Senate; Senator John Thune (R-SD), for instance, called the NATO alliance “something that has served freedom-loving countries well for half a century.”
The U.S. House of Representatives has indirectly taken on the issue of Trump’s antagonism of NATO in the past, too, having last year passed a resolution with almost unanimous support that “solemnly reaffirm[ed] the commitment of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s principle of collective defense.”
The just passed Senate measure included a call for the Trump administration to “urgently prioritize the completion of a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to counter malign activities of Russia that seek to undermine faith in democratic institutions in the United States and around the world.”
One such “democratic institution” would be NATO, although those behind that phrasing of course could be expected to have had the Kremlin’s repeated election meddling in mind, something the Trump administration has dragged its feet — to say the least — in addressing.
When it comes to NATO, which has for decades stood in contrast to the aggressive actions of a number of incarnations of the Russian government, Trump has undermined the organization through asserting on a growing number of occasions that United States alignment with Europe is contingent upon European countries spending more on defense. To Trump, the alliance doesn’t seem to rest on any deeper foundation — it’s all about the money for him.
NATO countries pledged to spend some 2 percent of their GDPs on defense by 2024, but Trump wants them all to spend that much now and maybe even add more to that total. On the first day of the NATO summit he’s attending this week in Belgium, he asserted that countries should spend 4 percent of their GDP on defense.
His actions have left U.S. allies in Europe again hanging on by a thread and wondering whether or not they can count on the United States, which is a chaos that suits Russia’s interests. The antagonism over NATO and defense spending comes along with antagonism on other fronts, too, like trade. The Trump administration has imposed rounds of tariffs on countries including our allies in what has been cast as an effort to address trade deficits.
All in all, Trump continues on with his reshaping of the United States’ position in the world.
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