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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Trump’s NATO remarks benefit America

Trump, NATO and the Ugly
Former president Donald Trump raises a fist on Feb. 24 at a primary election night party in Columbia, South Carolina. Opinion Columnist Will Thiel believes Trump’s recent controversial statements about NATO were justified. (AP Photo | Andrew Harnik)

Donald Trump is the only viable presidential candidate who can say what he wants on TV because he is not afraid to challenge the status quo and expose the political left’s hypocrisy

Holding a minority lead in the polls, Trump manages to capture attention and turn heads in America’s political landscape, leaving both supporters and critics intrigued by his every move.

At the same time, the former commander and chief is currently sitting on 91 charges across his four indictments, according to The Washington Post.

Yet, he has never been more ecstatic than this election year.

Trump has obtained a major foothold in private polling, wins across multiple primaries and a minority lead in major swing states when projected to face Joe Biden, as of February.

Former competitors Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis have endorsed him, and Trump has a large lead this February against the adversary for the GOP nomination. We are only going to hear more of Trump this year anyway, so we may as well listen up to what he has to say. 

During a South Carolina rally on Feb. 10, Trump suggested that if a NATO member country fails to contribute adequately to its own defense, he would not prioritize defending it against foreign adversaries, regardless of how aggressively Putin handles those adversaries.

The former president seems to imply that war is not too far off the table as he addressed the leader of a large country in his speech.

“No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” Trump said at the rally.

Considering what he said in his speech about current foreign affairs policy, Trump’s cabinet may uphold Russia’s ability to take matters into their own hands due to the poor defense budget management of NATO countries.

Trump’s remarks are the latest controversy he has declared on the campaign trail, creating backlash from media sources like CNN and FOX News. But as any politician would, Trump put his words ahead of his actions by talking the talk. 

Trump doesn’t actually want to leave NATO or let Putin attack foreign allies.

NIU political science professor and scholar of international conflict, Ches Thurber, summarized what Trump diplomacy may look like in Europe

“Trump’s America, a Trump presidency, a Trump administration would be weakly committed to NATO and probably weakly committed to the fight in Ukraine as well,” Thurber said.

When prompted about Trump’s reelection, Thurber recognized the former president’s opinion and policies should not be taken with a grain of salt.

“The bigger lesson from Trump’s first term is that you ought to take him seriously in terms of what he says on the campaign trail, especially on things that he brings up again and again,” Thurber said. “Obviously, the number one thing Trump talked about on the campaign trail last time was immigration, and we saw him battle Congress to the point of a government shutdown over building the wall, because he wanted to build a wall.” 

To evaluate Trump’s leadership and decipher his campaign messages, we need to compare and contrast his character and politics. 

Isaac Cejas, a first-year mechatronics engineering major, noted Trump’s better preparedness in the case of a 2020 election re-run.

“When it comes to Donald Trump versus a Joe Biden rematch, Trump did have a better handle on his front,” Cejas said.

Thurber seemed to agree when considering foreign handlings. 

“One thing that I do believe is that Vladimir Putin’s calculus in Ukraine right now is very much informed by the possibility that Donald Trump could be president next year,” Thurber said. 

While it seems Trump’s comments were off the cuff, his intentions are clearly identifiable, calculated rhetorical strategies and entertaining style. Through fascinating speech and questionable word choice, we can see how the frontrunner will retaliate against Biden in November 2024.

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