Trump will quit NATO, Hillary Clinton says, as U.S. commitment in question

Trump will quit NATO, Hillary Clinton says, as U.S. commitment in question
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Former U.S. President and current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the press at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, Florida, on February 16, 2024.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images

MUNICH, Germany (AP) — NATO members on Saturday mulled a possible U.S. withdrawal from the military alliance if Donald Trump returns to the White House. Hillary Clinton said he wouldn’t waste time quitting if re-elected.

Clinton urged delegates to the Munich Security Conference to take her former presidential rival’s harsh words “literally and seriously” as concerns grow about the future of the U.S.-led pact.

“He’s going to pull us out of NATO,” Clinton told attendees during a lunch meeting.

Trump stoked new concerns about U.S. involvement in NATO last weekend when he said he would “encourage” Russia to attack any member that fails to meet its spending targets. He has long criticized the alliance’s failure to ensure that members meet their commitment to allocate 2% of gross domestic product to defense.

Amid this rhetoric, the US Congress passed a bill in December that would prevent a US president from unilaterally withdrawing from the alliance without congressional approval.

USA withdraws from NATO?  “That will never happen,” said Republican Senator Jim Risch

Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Saturday dismissed talk of a U.S. withdrawal from NATO, saying: “We have answered that question.”

“To get out, it would take a two-thirds majority in the US Senate – that will never happen,” he told CNBC in Munich.

However, Clinton said that Trump could actually simply refuse to fund the alliance. “The United States will be there in name only,” she said.

Trump against NATO

Concerns about continued military coordination between the U.S. and Europe have dominated discussions at this year’s annual defense summit in Germany, as the specter of a second Trump presidency looms large and a controversial aid package for Ukraine hangs in the balance in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Earlier Saturday, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte referred to the constant “moaning and moaning” at the event about the future of NATO under Trump.

“Stop whining, moaning and complaining about Trump,” he said.

He was one of many European voices, including those of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who said Europe must become self-sufficient in the face of a more uncertain future with its closest diplomatic ally.

NATO chief says US won't withdraw from alliance: That makes them 'stronger'

“No matter what happens in the United States … we must be able to protect ourselves,” Frederiksen said.

In fact, Germany’s defense minister said his country’s commitment to spending 2% of GDP on defense should be just the beginning, noting that the threshold could be raised to 3.5% if necessary.

However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg struck a more confident tone about transatlantic coordination, saying he expects the U.S. to remain “a committed and committed NATO ally” whatever happens in the upcoming election.

“I expect that the US will remain a committed and committed NATO ally regardless of the outcome of the US elections in November,” he told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro.

“It is in the security interest of the United States to have a strong NATO,” he added.

Made with Flourish

Stoltenberg acknowledged Trump’s frustration with members’ spending but said, “That’s changing now.” On Wednesday, NATO announced that 18 of the alliance’s 31 members will meet the 2% spending target this year.

NATO member states first committed to minimum spending targets in 2006, but by 2014 only three had met that threshold.

The alliance will mark its 75th anniversary this year at an annual summit to be held in Washington in July.

Senator Risch said he would like to see all members commit to achieving their goal by then.

“It’s not now to talk about it happening years in the future, and we’re always interested in the now,” he said. “This is helpful for the relationship: everyone keeps their commitments.”

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2024-02-17 17:58:27