The former commander of U.S. troops in Europe has blasted President Donald Trump’s trashing of the nation’s commitment to stand with long-time allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
″I never in my life imagined an American president would call into question Article 5,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, referring to the heart of the NATO pact, which states that allies will come to each other’s defense. “It’s so unhelpful when he’s kicking the most important allies in the ass publicly,” he added in an interview aired Thursday on “The World” on the nonprofit Public Radio International.
That’s “unbelievable to me,” said Hodges, who’s currently an expert at the Center for European Policy Analysis. “It’s causing people to have to do a lot of extra work to explain: ‘Don’t worry, we’re still committed, and we’re here.’”
Trump has ripped NATO as “obsolete,” erroneously accused members of owing the United States money and has hinted at a U.S. withdrawal if other nations don’t increase their defense spending. The New York Times reported recently that Trump talked to White House advisers “several times” last year about quitting the 70-year-old alliance.
Hodges indicated that Trump’s attacks and his undermining of NATO threaten world security.
“When the president refers to the EU as an enemy of the United States, that’s a gift to the president of the Russian Federation and also to the president of China,” Hodges said.
“Should nations be doing more?” Hodges asked. “Absolutely they should. Every president has said that. But I think there’s a better approach to doing this.”
Listen to the entire interview in the audio clip at the top of the story.