Tags: nicholas burns | nato | donald trump | effective

Amb. Burns: Trump's NATO Visit 'Least Effective' in its History

Image: Amb. Burns: Trump's NATO Visit 'Least Effective' in its History
President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, front left to right, at a group photo ceremony for NATO heads of delegations, at a NATO summit in Brussels. (Alexey Vitvitsky/Sputnik via AP)

By    |   Friday, 26 May 2017 11:49 AM

President Donald Trump's policy on Russia is the weakest of "any president in 70 years," and his visit at Thursday's NATO meeting was the "single least effective visit by an American president" since its founding in 1949, former Ambassador Nicholas Burns said Friday.

"This is the crux of the problem for Europeans, they're focused on the Russian threat," the former NATO spokesman commented on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "Any [previous] American president would have gone to that summit and be seen as the leader of the West, and would have rallied NATO to stand up to Russia, to keep the American and European sanctions on the Russians."

However, Trump did not do any of that, and he also did not reaffirm Article 5, the collective defense agreement, said Burns, who is now a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

"He didn't act like the strong leader that Ronald Reagan was," Burns said. "The Europeans are concerned about this. Most see [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel as the leader of the West right now. She doesn't want that role. I was thinking this morning, is this the single least effective visit by an American president to NATO in 68 years? I think you have to say it is.

Burns doubled down on his comments through his Twitter page later in the morning: 

Retired four-star Admiral James Stavridis, a former NATO supreme allied commander, appeared on the program with Burns, and said that compared to where Trump was during is campaign and saying NATO is obsolete, he was "vastly better" while meeting with its leaders.

"Woody Allen said 90 percent of life is showing up . . . he actually did show up," Stavridis said. "But the tone, the style is just not what we want to do in front of our best pool of partners in the world."

Stavridis said that while he was a NATO commander, he signed several thousands of condolence notes to people killed in action in Afghanistan, and "hundreds and hundreds" of those went to Europeans.

"They are contributing," Stavridis said. "We should get the 2 percent spending, but we ought to understand they are the best partners we'll ever have in the world."

Europe is the United States' largest trade partner and investor, Burns also commented.

"This is our largest alliance," he said. "We have major disagreements on Russia, climate change and trade. We've got to close those. This is a very important set of relationships for us."

Stavridis, meanwhile, insisted that the United States and its NATO partners are not yet at an "adversarial relationship, but we're slipping. You feel that Transatlantic bridge cracking in the wind."

He also emphasized that it would be an "epic, geopolitical mistake for the United States to walk away from this pool of partner,s their trained soldiers, their ability to operate with us and desire to sacrifice alongside us. [It's the] best pool of partners we'll ever have."

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President Donald Trump's policy on Russia is the weakest of "any president in 70 years," and his visit at Thursday's NATO meeting was the "single least effective visit by an American president" since its founding in 1949, former Ambassador Nicholas Burns said Friday.
nicholas burns, nato, donald trump, effective
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2017-49-26
Friday, 26 May 2017 11:49 AM
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