Donald Trump put European countries on notice with comments in The New York Times
that suggested he would not honor a primary obligation of NATO membership, the defense of its allies.
Trump said doing so might depend on whether the countries paid their financial dues to the NATO alliance.
"You can't forget the bills," the Republican nominee said, adding, "They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they're supposed to make. That's a big thing. You can't forget that."
Trump told the Times that his position was part of his plan to put "America first."
Some analysts believe that a Trump presidency could lead to Russia intimidating NATO members or the collapse of the alliance, according to NBC News.
Vox reporter Zack Beauchamp posted on Twitter about the apparent danger in Trump's statement.
The NATO treaty states in Article 5 that an attack on one member of the group is an attack on them all.
"If Trump wants to put conditions through Article 5, he would endanger the whole alliance," Chatham House think tank fellow Beyza Unal said.
The NBC News report pointed out that Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said, "We are equally committed to all our NATO allies, regardless of who they may be. That's what makes them allies."
Senior policy adviser for Hillary Clinton Jake Sullivan questioned Trump's comments about the NATO guarantee. "Donald Trump was asked if he would honor that guarantee. He said … maybe, maybe not. The president is supposed to be the leader of the free world. Donald Trump apparently doesn't even believe in the free world," Sullivan said, NBC News reports.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. remains committed to NATO. "There should be no mistake or miscalculation made about this country's commitment to the Trans-Atlantic alliance," Earnest said.
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort rejected the idea that Trump would not support the NATO alliance. Manafort said Trump "believes in the agreements."
Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander said, "Mr. Trump's statement on NATO shows a misunderstanding of how NATO works, and more fundamentally, undercuts NATO's deterrent in Europe," according to Bloomberg.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.