Trump's NATO Pull-Out to Benefit Europe, End Enmity Towards Russia – Historian

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Donald Trump's potential withdrawal from NATO may significantly change the balance of power in Europe and facilitate its alliance with Russia, Italian historian Franco Cardini has told Sputnik, admitting that the US president's apparent intention to leave the bloc is difficult to implement.

US congressmen are pushing ahead with legislation preventing Donald Trump from pulling out of NATO; the House of Representatives has already passed the bill with a 357-22 vote.

"It is in a sense crazy that we have to be doing this", Democratic Representative Tom Malinowski, a former assistant secretary at the State Department, told Reuters commenting on the bipartisan initiative.

According to The New York Times, the US president has repeatedly voiced his intention to leave the alliance in private conversations.

Technically Trump can withdraw from NATO without congressional approval; however, the bicameral legislature may block this move by prohibiting the financing of the initiative. Earlier Congress resorted to a similar measure to prevent Barack Obama from closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. 

Although the US president may veto the legislation, lawmakers still have an option to override it.

Sputnik has reached out to prominent Italian historian Franco Cardini asking him to comment on the probability of Trump's pull-out from NATO and possible implications of the move.

Why Trump's Pull-Out Would be 'Good' for Europe

According to the historian, if Washington really decides to leave the military bloc, "a total rethinking of NATO would be then necessary".

"The US has been the leading force in NATO since its foundation. Also, its first ally, Britain, is currently in a very difficult position because of Brexit. What if, as these last days have shown, there is a hard Brexit with no deal? What is going to happen to UK's presence in NATO? Possibly, NATO would find itself without its very backbone, left to countries that have had, during those decades, very different politics and no real armies", Cardini pointed out.

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On the one hand, in that case Europe would have to increase its expenses on defence, while on the other hand it would have to reconsider its relations with countries previously regarded as NATO's rivals, most notably, Russia, the historian highlighted.

"If the US and UK pull out of NATO, what is the interest of NATO to maintain the aggressive stance against Russia we have seen growing in those last years? The natural end of NATO's crisis would be to find a strategic alliance with Russia, which is natural given we all share European interests; it would also be fruitful because Russia and also Turkey offer a gateway to Asia that Europe doesn't have, but that would increase our economy", he suggested.

He presumed that this new course would be met with criticism by some Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland and the Baltic States. "But I think this could be solved if Western Europe is really willing to find a new path for its economy", the academic added.

According to Cardini, "the main problem is to understand what would become of American bases in Europe".

The historian expressed doubts that Washington would agree to move its military installations off the continent. At the same time, having withdrawn from NATO the US would have no legal justification for keeping its bases in Europe, he emphasised.

"These are the main issues with Trump's stance about NATO which would [be] — this is my opinion — something good for Europe, but also something really hard to realize and that would see a great part of the US industrial complex go against its president. I do not know if Trump would survive that: and I do not mean only politically, but also quite literally", Cardini stressed.

Trump's Foreign Strategy: Words and Nothing More

However, the historian offered to wait and see whether Donald Trump would deliver on his other foreign policy promises.

"Trump has been elected with a programme that already hinted to his will of an America less involved in the global scene", the academic told Sputnik. "Its proposals have been tagged as ‘isolationist', and led to confront them with currents in American politics that has been present in the country's history, but not much in recent times. However, analysts could wonder how Trump could think to enforce its proposition: is it possible to ‘make America great again', as the slogan of choice goes, and at the same time stay away from international events?"

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According to the historian, Trump‘s foreign strategy has yet to bear fruit. "As Trump's relationship with Korea has shown: a bad mix of menaces, requests for friendships, and plain lies that led to nothing", he remarked.

Cardini noted that recently the US has seemingly shifted to a "soft power" approach instead of the use of force and announced a partial pull-out from Afghanistan as well as his withdrawal from Syria "and now from NATO".

"Of course, it is necessary to be cautious, to see clearly if he is going through with his announcements, or if they are going to stay like they are until now: words and nothing more", the academic opined.

As for the US president's apparent intention to leave the North Atlantic alliance, "it is clear that Trump's wills are going to be really difficult to apply", he stressed.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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