NATO: Donald Trump is surrounded by NATO advocates

With its hostility to NATO, the US president is largely alone in political Washington. Europeans should not focus too much on him.

NATO: Donald Trump is surrounded by NATO advocates
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    Author Marco Overhouse researches Science and Policy Foundation (SWP) on security and Defence Policy of United States. The foundation advises Bundestag and federal government on all issues of foreign and security policy.

    Before NATO summit this week, uncertainty about American alliance policy in European capitals is steadily increasing. The focus is mainly on US president Donald Trump. In fact, its statements give cause for concern.

    Just a few days before he took office, he declared alliance to be "obsolete" and n had a lot of time to reaffirm United States ' commitment to collective defence. Recently, Axios quoted president as saying that NATO is as bad as North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA, both of which are far too expensive for United States. Or media reported that Trump had expressed interest in a withdrawal of American troops from Germany. In addition, before first bilateral meeting of trumps with Vladimir Putin on 16 July, it is feared that American president could recognize Russian annexation of Crimea.

    There are good reasons to take statements of US president seriously, which has far-reaching powers, especially in foreign and security policy. If he wanted, he could, as commander-in-chief of Armed Forces, command Pentagon to set American participation in NATO exercises or to withdraw US troops from Europe. Also, since terrorist attacks of 2001, American Congress has ceded more and more security-policy responsibilities to executive. However, it is important not to focus on White House. Indeed, NATO is very important in US Congress and administration.

    Congress approves budget

    For it is difficult to find in American Parliament a single senator or a single member who expresses scepticism or even rejection of North Atlantic Alliance. This is true for Democrats as well as for Republicans. In relevant hearings of armed Forces committees of both chambers of Parliament, question is currently being discussed on how US can optimise and expand its contributions to reinsurance of European NATO partners.

    In some areas, Parliament has even approved more resources for European security than Trump Government had requested. In February 2018, two U.S. senators, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Thom Tillis, revitalized "Senate NATO Observer Group", which had existed until 2007. This group is intended to contribute to influential members of budget, external, defence and intelligence committees. They have set mselves goal of furr strengning support of Congress for North Atlantic Alliance.

    Marco Overhouse

    Research at Science and Policy Foundation (SWP) on security and Defence Policy of United States. The foundation advises Bundestag and federal government on all issues of foreign and security policy.

    With approval of budget, Congress has a powerful lever over president. Wher senators and deputies actually use this lever depends not only on respective majority ratios; Decisions are also in light of next interim elections in November of this year, in which many Republicans fear to openly attack presidents who continue to be popular in ir constituencies. However, decision of far-reaching sanction laws against Russia against resistance of White House has shown that Congress does not necessarily shy away from conflict with Trump.

    The intercession of NATO also dominates administration, i.e. circle of ministers, top personnel and bureaucratic apparatus. Not only since presidency of Donald Trumps has Pentagon been a particularly important player in American security policy. Leading generals, such as upper commanding of US Armed forces in Europe, Curtis Scaparrotti, reaffirm importance of NATO for American Security in Washington. Since Russian annexation of Crimea in spring of 2014, many parts of Defense Ministry have established a view that focuses on rivalry with or major powers, in front of Russia and China.

    Date Of Update: 11 July 2018, 12:02

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