The United States could leave NATO if Donald Trump wins a second term, said former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Speaking with the British station Times Radio, the official said that a "political guardrail" was the only thing that prevented Washington from turning away from the alliance during Trump's first term.
"It wasn't that we convinced him that NATO is actually a pretty good alliance, but that he just saw he couldn't go across the line and actually call for withdrawal...once he's re-elected, that political guardrail, if it doesn't disappear entirely, is substantially diminished", Bolton said.
The former national security adviser known for his hawkish stance on foreign policy issues said if Trump gets re-elected he doesn't have to worry as much "about the US political blowback, and so his instincts or his inclinations have free rein".
Bolton also predicted that Trump may pursue a more isolationist policy during his second term.
"There will be fewer people around as there are fewer people now, like myself and like some others, who would say 'it's a very bad idea to withdraw from NATO'", Bolton said.
Donald Trump has been critical of the North Atlantic alliance and even questioned its purpose. In particular, member states' failure to meet defence spending targets has provoked his ire. In 2014, NATO countries agreed to work towards spending 2 percent of their GDP on defence and although member states have raised their spending, paying tens of billions of dollars, they haven't yet met the target. Even Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, doesn't meet the target.
During the 2018 NATO summit Trump even threatened to withdraw the United States from NATO if member states continue rely heavily on the US when it comes to paying defence bills.
The tough stance on NATO is part of Trump's America First campaign agenda. Over the course of his tenure Trump has pulled the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, and walked away from the JCPOA, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
International Law Does Not Supercede US Law
During his interview with the UK station Times Radio, John Bolton also touched upon the ongoing Brexit negotiations and gave Britain a piece of advice on how to deal with the European Union. He specifically mentioned the Internal Market Bill, which the Boris Johnson government has recently passed. Critics of the bill say it effectively breaks international law because it runs counter to the withdrawal agreement that the United Kingdom negotiated with Brussels last year. The European Union has already launched legal proceedings against Britain over the bill.
Bolton said he believes local authorities can override "treaty obligations".
"The United States never agreed that international law was higher than our constitution. Never has, never will. I don't think Britain ever did that either. I think the United Kingdom should tell the European Court to 'stuff it' basically", Botlon said.