European allies who are keeping a close eye on this year's U.S. presidential election are alarmed by former President Donald Trump's comments on NATO.
Article 5 is a central tenet of the NATO alliance; an attack on one is an attack on all. But on the campaign trail, Trump suggested the U.S. might put some conditions on that agreement if he's back in the White House.
Trump's rhetoric against NATO is longstanding, and at a rally this past weekend he ramped it up.
Trump said he told the leader of a NATO ally that the U.S. wouldn't come to that ally's aid if that country wasn't spending enough on defense.
"No, I would not protect you; in fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills,” said Trump.
NATO had a swift response. In a statement, Secretary-General António Guterres said any suggestion that allies wouldn't defend each other undermines all of their security and puts soldiers at greater risk.
Last year, more than half of NATO members came close to or met the voluntary guideline of allocating 2% of GDP to defense spending.
Many more increased spending after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“NATO cannot be à la carte military alliance; it cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humor of the president of the U.S. on those days,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief.
President Joe Biden called Trump's remarks "appalling and dangerous," and Trump's Republican primary rival was also blunt.
"I look at what Donald Trump said on Saturday, and it made me sick to my stomach,” said Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. "He just put every military member at risk and every one of our allies at risk just by saying something at a rally like that."
But other Republicans have brushed Trump's comments off.
"He doesn't talk like a traditional politician, and we've already been through this now. You'd think people had figured it out by now,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
However, U.S. allies overseas are taking the remarks seriously.
Without giving details, the European Commission said it was preparing for "all possible outcomes" of the 2024 U.S. elections.
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