During his presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to pull the United States out of the NATO alliance.
Former President Donald Trump on Monday attempted to take credit for NATO's existence amid Russia's ongoing attacks on Ukraine. But for years Trump repeatedly tried to undermine the NATO alliance.
"There would be no NATO if I didn't act strongly and swiftly," Trump said in a statement, noting it "was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues."
However, Trump's presidency was marked by his antagonism toward the alliance, so much so that when President Joe Biden, after he was sworn into office in 2021, was forced to do work to repair the United States-NATO relationship after years of damage.
As Trump ran for president in 2016, he agreed with the notion that America should rethink its involvement with NATO, telling CNN at a town hall, "It's costing us too much money."
At that time, he even complained that, as part of the NATO alliance, the United States was part of "taking care of" Ukraine.
When asked if NATO was obsolete and should be disbanded, Trump said, "It's possible. It's possible. I would certainly look at it."
The Trump administration in 2017 said it would consider leaving the NATO alliance if member countries did not follow through on pledges to increase their financial contributions.
"[Trump] would like to stay in NATO. But he is not going to stay in NATO if NATO doesn't make a lot more progress much quicker," a senior White House official told reporters.
And, according to officials within the Trump administration, Trump privately said on several occasions that he wanted to withdraw from NATO. A report in the New York Times said Trump told top national security officials he didn't see the point of the military alliance.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden highlighted Trump's public disagreements with NATO leaders, even featuring leaked video of world leaders laughing at Trump.
"We need a leader the world respects," a Biden campaign ad noted.
Addressing the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Biden has repeatedly met with and discussed the issue with other NATO leaders, including attending an emergency summit on Friday.
In a Feb. 25 speech, Biden emphasized American solidarity with NATO and unity against Russian hostility.
"As President Putin threatens the very foundations of international peace and security, NATO is once again demonstrating that it stands for freedom and democracy," said Biden. "The United States will defend every inch of NATO territory. Our commitment to Article 5 is ironclad."
Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack against one member of the alliance is to be treated as an attack against every member of the organization.
In remarks to reporters after his speech, Biden described Article 5 as a "sacred obligation."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.