By Jordan Thomas
Two weeks ago, all of the news headlines pointed to Donald Trump as he received the nomination for the Republican Party. He is now the official candidate for Republican party and Republicans have to make the choice between accepting him or accepting Hillary Clinton. With a whole host of celebrity stars (including duck dynasty), Stephen Colbert sneaking on stage and impersonating a character from the Hunger Games, and the Ted Cruz speaking prime-time at the Convention and not endorsing Hillary, I would say that 2016 RNC was unprecedented in its own manner (I wish I could say it was in a good way). I personally wish it wasn’t in my hometown… Do we even need to address Ben Carson comparing Hillary Clinton to Lucifer? In all of the mayhem, it’s easy to forgot that Trump made a dangerous comment in a written interview with the New York Times that threatened all of Western America as we know it today.
Last week, the New York Times released an interview with Donald Trump in which it was evident that he literally knows very little about our foreign policy (NY Times Transcript). Throughout the interview, Trump mixed up very basic terms and clearly couldn’t distinguish the difference between a trade deal and a military treaty. As someone who has spent time in the heart of our executive branch, the President cannot possibly know everything, which is why he receives briefings and memorandums on a whole host of information. It’s ludicrous to suggest that one person can know everything in the world, but I would expect that the next Presidential nominee of the United States would know the difference between a trade deal and a military treaty.
During the interview Trump frequently mixed up NAFTA and NATO. NAFTA stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement and was signed by President Clinton and encompasses free trade between Canada and Mexico. NATO stands for the North American Treaty Organization and was created after World War II and signed by President Truman and was ratified by the Senate. The original intent of NATO was to limit the power of the Soviet Union since the fall of Germany left a huge power void that was filled by the Soviet Union and help prevent future.
NATO in its most basic form states that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of the NATO countries and helps to preserve peace in North America. More specifically, article V of the treaty mentions credible commitment, signifying that if the US and the international community believe that a country is threatening a NATO country, they will send information to the threatening country letting them know that they plan to honor their agreement of the treaty. Therefore, assisting in preventing war and ensuring stabilization in North America. Why does this matter?
During the NY Times interview Trump explained that he didn’t know how he felt about NATO and he wasn’t fully sure that he would support smaller Baltic countries if they were attacked by Russia. Trump stated that all of those countries need to start “paying their weight” [in terms of the defensive treaty] and seemed to confuse this with a free trade organization again by citing a loss of 600 Billion. The United States pays for some of the operations of NATO, but this is not relevant to a treaty dealing with a different continent.
NATO has protected every country that has signed it since war a one country means war with all of the countries (including that of the United States). When further pressed about this statement, he mentioned that he didn’t want to tell Putin how we would react because he would only know if that very moment.
Here’s why it matters - Without saying the exact words, Trump essentially gave Putin “the okay” to invade a small NATO country and see what our response would be. Putin doesn’t even have to invade, but can test out the response of the international community by placing troops on the border, or another aggressive attack to see what the United States would do. If the United States doesn’t support NATO, why should any of the other countries? The United States is still a leader in international issues and has used defensive treaties in the past. With just a few words Trump has threatened all of North America and explicitly Western Europe.
Trump probably didn’t know it at the time, but Putin has consistently taken advantage of some of the Baltic countries and has openly stated that he thinks that they should still be apart of the modern day state of Russia. In the past three years alone, Putin has sent Russian war ships into Latvian waters over 50 times. Remember when Putin invaded Ukraine? I bet you can guess what treaty Ukraine wasn’t a member of… If they were a member of NATO, you can be that Russia wouldn’t have gone through with it because it would have meant war with NATO.
It’s absurd to suggest that modern day Russia has the same amount of power in foreign policy proportionally as the Soviet Union in the mid-1900 after WWII; Russia is a much smaller country in terms of their land mass and GDP. However, as the United States and the international community has learned time and time again, Russia doesn’t need to win every battle against the US; Russia just need to thwart the US and international community and they have had ample opportunities to do just that. Remember when Russia openly supported Assad in Syria and provided them with weaponry and resources? Remember when Russia invaded Ukraine with their forces? The ways of the old Soviet Union are one and we need to recognize Russia’s ability to influence international events. They have always had the means to do so and Trump has just given them another in a large way.
What Trump fails to recognize is that Putin is a former KGB Intelligence Officer? Putin knew exactly what to say to get Trump to react exactly how he wanted him to! If Trump is elected President of the United States, Putin will be able to manipulate him to get what he wants.
During the same interview, Trump has stated that Putin is a strong leader and has been on record saying that he respects him. On Wednesday, July 26, Trump joked that he hoped that “Russia could find then 30,000 emails that Clinton lost”. Despite what Trump probably thought was a simple joke, Clinton's emails contained sensitive information and were private and therefore not turned over to the State Department. It’s even troubling when information suggest that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Convention’s website and leaked information about how they favored Hillary Clinton. Trump even stated that he would “like to see the emails from whichever country has them”.
Regardless of your party preferences, you shouldn’t want a foreign country interfering in a domestic election. When you agree to serve as President of the United States (or agree to serve under their administration), you agree to take a vow to protect this country from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. At the moment, Trump has not shown me that he is capable of thinking through and explaining a concise foreign policy objective for his potential Administration. Why in the world are people considering this man to be their commander and chief and hold the nuclear codes for the United States?
Photo Credit: Lee Chapman