No Mr Trump NATO is not a protection racket

No, Mr. Trump, NATO is not a protection racket

A recent statement from Donald Trump underscores the dangers of his return to the presidency for global security, but risks being quickly forgotten.

• Also read: Biden condemns Trump's “idiotic” and “undignified” comments about NATO

• Also read: Trump would “encourage” Russia to attack dead NATO countries

Last Saturday, Donald Trump made a statement that, taken at face value, represents an abdication by the United States of its allies and underlines that the former president's election would pose a real geopolitical risk.

However, that doesn't stop the media from drawing everyone's attention to Joe Biden's age, which is a trivial topic in comparison.

All for one

Since 1949, the heart of Western security has been NATO, which is based on the principle of mutual defense: an attack on one is an attack on all.

The strength of this commitment is a key reason for the lack of attacks against NATO members in Europe.

The duty of mutual defense is unconditional, regardless of the size of the country attacked or the level of its military expenditure. This makes the alliance strong.

A protection racket

NATO members have agreed to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, but several countries, including Canada, have long been criticized by the United States for failing to meet that target.

With Trump, these allegations have increased again. For him, the allies are just ordinary profiteers. He never misses an opportunity to rant about NATO paying its bills, which is ironic coming from a man known for not paying his bills, especially since NATO doesn't send bills to its members.

In Trump's eyes, NATO is like a protection racket in which the United States could refuse support to a member if it believes it is not paying its fair share.

On Saturday, he suggested that if a member country does not contribute as much as it expects, it will not only refuse to come to its aid but will also encourage its enemies to “do whatever they want.”

Not a small risk

This stance represents a complete break with American policy over the past three-quarters of a century.

Trump apologists see no risks. According to them, Trump is just bluffing to get his allies to pay their share. They add that Congress would never agree to withdraw from NATO and that the military-diplomatic establishment will keep Trump in line. It is wrong.

Trump is not bluffing. He would probably no more oppose using American troops to defend Lithuania or Poland than he would support Ukraine. Furthermore, his promise to end the war in Ukraine in a few hours would be tantamount to capitulation to Putin.

As for the laws that would prevent him from withdrawing from America's commitments to NATO, they will have as much impact as the laws he has been blithely breaking for years. As for the “adults in the room” who cooled his enthusiasm in the past, they won’t be there in a second term because Trump will surround himself with yes-men who will give him free rein.

This is not a caricature. This is the reality that awaits the world if we continue to place more importance on Joe Biden's age than on the extreme positions of a man barely younger than him.