President Trump’s last leg of his “big foreign trip” is a meeting with the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the multilateral collective security alliance that has formed the bedrock of the global balance of power since the beginning of the Cold War.
Trump has already made headlines for his exceedingly awkward handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron and for rudely shoving aside Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way so that he could be at the front of a photo-op, but it turns out Trump was only just getting started.
During the meeting, President Trump explicitly failed to pledge support for Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that created NATO – that an attack against one member was an attack against all.
Every US President since Truman has pledged support for Article 5–that US will defend Europe. Not so Trump today at #NATO. Major mistake.
— Nicholas Burns (@RNicholasBurns) May 25, 2017
Article 5 has been invoked only once – after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
That omission will be music to the ears of Vladimir Putin, dictator of the Russian Federation and suspected blackmailer of Donald Trump.
NATO is the primary check on Russia’s aggressive territorial ambitions in Eastern Europe as Putin schemes to re-create the Soviet Empire in his own image. More than 7,000 NATO soldiers – including 3,500 Americans – stand guard along the borders of Estonia, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, ready to defend the West from any Russian expansionism.
Without the might of the United States, NATO would be crippled, giving Putin the opportunity he’s likely dreamt about since he joined the KGB at the age of sixteen.
The accusations that President Trump and his team engaged in potentially treasonous collusion with agents of the Russian Federation in order to tilt the election in his favor are given credence not just by the outrageously suspicious behavior exhibited by Trump and his appointees but also by a very obvious shift in official policy towards a pro-Russian agenda that would previously have been heresy in the Republican Party.
Shortly after Trump aide Carter Page met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the Republican Party platform was abruptly changed to tone down the level of material support for the Ukranian government, which is fighting a war against Russia and local separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk – a change which was ordered by Trump himself.
Throughout the campaign, President Trump slandered NATO and complained about our allies not paying their fair share – which isn’t how NATO works – all the while cozying up to Moscow. Since taking office, Trump has given top-secret information to the Russians and failed to outline any kind of comprehensive policy for dealing with Russia – but then again, he hasn’t really outlined any kind of comprehensive policy on anything.
Trump’s decision to purposefully not pledge support for Article 5 is a very obvious and very deliberate signal to Moscow that Trump is willing to turn his back on our allies in order to placate his master in the Kremlin. Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation into Trump and his team’s collusion with the Russians has taken on a new level of significance – the fate of Europe’s democracies may rest on Trump’s swift removal.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.