Trump’s Confusing Behavior Toward NATO

On Tuesday night the White House confirmed that President Trump will attend May’s NATO summit, which is set to take place in Brussels.

Trump will participate in the meetings on May 25, press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement, adding that the president “looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism.”

Spicer also said that Trump will welcome NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House on April 12 to “talk about how to strengthen the alliance to cope with challenges to national and international security.”

The announcement, which follows NATO’s announcement last month that Trump was set to attend, eases the worries of some who had expressed concern over Trump’s commitment to NATO.

During the campaign, Trump declared NATO “obsolete” and made other statements that suggested he wanted to reassess the United States’ participation in the organization.

His more recent statements seem to have allayed some of the fears that he might back off from NATO, while other statements still raise red flags. For instance, he voiced his “strong support” for NATO during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month, while at the same time repeating some of his concerns that some of the organization’s members do not pay their fair share in dues.

On Monday, the White House announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is skipping this month’s meeting of NATO foreign ministers in order to take part in a meeting between Trump and China’s president the same week. What’s more, Tillerson is planning a tête-à-tête with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a notorious critic of NATO, in April.

What do we make of Trump’s confusing, seemingly schizophrenic actions and statements toward NATO? It’s tough to discern any pattern to this behavior at all, so I suppose time will tell.

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Chris Queen

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