“Brussels is a hellhole, I told you months ago Brussels was a hellhole,” states Donald Trump. The Republican frontrunners’ comments about the city that is home to both the EU and NATO come in the wake of the tragic March 22 terror attack, but also on the heels of his calls to dissolve NATO.
Trump argues that the NATO defense alliance only exacerbates international tensions with Russia, a country he has called to cooperate with in the fight against Daesh, and, more broadly, in the Middle East. But more than anything, Trump questions the staggering cost of NATO on the US taxpayer, arguing that America is being asked to provide protection to other countries who are unwilling to pay for that protection.
Trump’s comments are supported by a wide body of evidence showing that NATO airstrikes in Syria rely on partner-countries “borrowing” US munitions because they cannot contribute arms, an explosion of the defense budget against an illusory Russian aggression toward Europe, and an expanded US military presence in almost every region of the world, at a time when the US national debt exceeds $19.2 trillion.
The leading Republican candidate for President of the United States differs from the neocons of the previous generation in their clamor for continued conflict, not only within his own party, but with the Democratic Party, a group traditionally viewed as less hawkish.
President Barack Obama called for a less interventionist military policy as a candidate in 2008, and his candidacy swept him not only to the White House but to a Nobel Peace Prize. Recently, the two-term president took aim at Trump’s non-interventionist pleas with a full-throated defense of the expansion of the US war machine.
“NATO continues to be a lynchpin, a cornerstone” of US and European defense policy, Barack Obama said on Monday during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
President Obama added that “we continue to be united in supporting Ukraine” against a highly-disputed perception of Russian aggression.
Baseless accusations continue to fly from the White House that Russia is arming separatist forces and deploying troops where they’re not authorized to be. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest referred to Trump’s comments, to pull back on military intervention in Europe and elsewhere in the world, as “ill advised.”
In lockstep with the Obama administration, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg declared that “NATO is as important as ever both for the United States and Europe,” commenting during his White House meeting.