Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr. said Monday the country’s credibility is on the line when asked about former President Trump’s recent comments admitting he once threatened NATO allies he would “encourage” Russian aggression if they failed to spend enough on collective defense.
Trump recounted the remarks during a campaign rally Saturday, saying he “would encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that are “delinquent” on NATO financial and military contributions.
“We have a strong alliance. This year is the 75th anniversary of NATO, and I think we have a responsibility to uphold those alliances,” he said in an “NBC Nightly News” interview Monday. “U.S. credibility is at stake with each of our alliances, and US leadership is still needed, wanted and watched.”
“And the steps that we take to support those alliances are important, not just with NATO, but actually the other alliances we have around the world as well,” he added.
President Biden also denounced the comments on Sunday, calling them “appalling and dangerous.”
“If my opponent, Donald Trump, is able to regain power, he is making it clear as day that he will abandon our NATO allies if Russia attacks and allow Russia to ‘do whatever the hell they want’ with them,” he said in a statement.
“Sadly, [the comments] are also predictable coming from a man who is promising to rule as a dictator like the ones he praises on day one if he returns to the oval office,” he added.
Trump was critical of NATO allies while president and repeatedly threatened to undermine the international defensive alliance.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement Sunday that “any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.”
Trump has similarly called on the U.S. to halt foreign aid spending, including to Ukraine, raising concerns among Democrats and America’s allies in Europe.
Trump campaign doubled down on his comments in a post to Truth Social on Monday.
“We have nobody that they respect, and they insist on paying far less than we do,” Trump wrote of the alliance. “Wrong, NATO has to equalize, and now. They will do that if properly asked. If not, America first!”