Donald Trump instantly attracted an extensive level of attention last weekend after suggesting at a campaign rally in South Carolina that he’d encourage Russia to advance militarily on NATO allies if they fell short of ostensible financial obligations, and the Secretary-General of that international alliance spoke out.
“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” NATO leader Jen Stoltenberg said. “I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election the U.S. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally.”
It’s now formally embedded in U.S. law that a president can’t withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) without Congressional involvement. “The President shall not suspend, terminate, denounce, or withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty, done at Washington, DC, April 4, 1949, except by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided that two-thirds of the Senators present concur, or pursuant to an Act of Congress,” that legislation said, all of which cut off possibilities for Trump, in a potentially future stint as president, to actually further advance his clear antagonism towards the mutual defense alliance.
The changes were approved last year as part of the latest funding bill for the nation’s national defense. NATO operates on an agreement for mutual defense in the event a member is attacked, establishing a level of deterrence that helps protect smaller and larger members alike across multiple continents. Trump, however, has made similar arguments previously, suggesting he’d be inclined towards somehow stepping back from established U.S. commitments. In other words, Stoltenberg’s expressed confidence in the U.S. continuing to stand by the alliance aligns with a lot other than Trump rather than necessarily indicating confidence in him.
Former GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming also condemned Trump’s commentary. “No sane American President would encourage Putin to attack our NATO allies. No honorable American leaders would excuse or endorse this,” she said online.