US President Barack Obama says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent remarks about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) indicate his “lack of preparedness” on foreign policy.
Trump said last week that if he is elected president, the US would only provide aid to the allies who have “fulfilled their obligations to us,” urging NATO members to either pay up for US support or take care of their own security.
Speaking to CBS in an interview that was aired on Sunday, Obama called NATO “the most important alliance in the history of the world” in the face of Russia’s “aggressive” behavior.
“There is a big difference between challenging our European allies to keep up their defense spending, particularly at a time when Russia’s been more aggressive and saying to them, ‘You know what? We might not abide by the central tenet of the most important alliance in the history of the world’,” the outgoing president said.
NATO has been deploying troops and military equipment on its eastern frontier with Russia ever since cutting ties with Moscow in 2014.
Asked about Russia’s possible military response to NATO’s military buildup, Trump said America might abandon a guarantee of protection to such countries.
This breaches a treaty signed by NATO members that says an attack on one member state is an attack on all and that other states should come to aid of any member that comes under attack.
Obama said the real estate magnate’s remarks were “an indication of the lack of preparedness that he has been displaying when it comes to foreign policy.”
He used the opportunity to further promote presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.
“She is not always flashy. And there are better speech makers. But she knows her stuff,” Obama said while describing Clinton as the best person for the job.
Ever since launching his campaign, Trump has time and again questioned ties with NATO, calling on the US-led alliance’s members to either pay up for Washington’s support or spend more on their own security.