For decades, the NATO alliance between the U.S., Europe, and Canada, has obstructed first Soviet and then Russian aggression. The end of NATO would be a victory for Putin, and Trump may be giving Putin this win, according to a New York Times report.
Trump suggested many times throughout 2018 that he would like to withdraw from NATO, which would in effect destroy the alliance.
Trump has indicated that he believes NATO is nothing but a financial drain on the U.S. If the U.S. were to withdraw, its influence in Europe would be dramatically weakened.
An under secretary of defense, Michele A. Flournoy, stated that withdrawing from the alliance “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to the U.S. interests.”
Flournoy added “it would be the wildest success that Vladmir Putin could dream of.”
Russian interference in the U.S. elections and its attempt to stop former satellite states from joining NATO have been efforts to weaken the alliance. Without NATO, Russia would have more freedom to behave as they’d like.
Trump dislikes abroad engagements, and has withdrawn from many military and economic partnerships, including the Paris climate accord and the Asia-Pacific trade pact.
Under Article 13 of the Washington Treaty, members of NATO can withdraw after a year-long notification period. In this year, Congress would have time to block Trump’s attempts to leave. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NY-D.) has mentioned that the Senate knows the worth of NATO and stands “ready to defend” it.
Even if the U.S. was not able to withdraw from NATO once Congress blocked the process, the mere statement would have catastrophic effects. NATO allies who feel threatened by Russia already doubt that Trump would come to their aid in case of emergency.