Former US President Donald Trump’s statements about not providing assistance to NATO members in case of a Russian attack are part of Trump’s pre-election campaign, which is mainly aimed at the US public, political scientist and disinformation researcher Martins Hirss told LETA.
Trump, who is the most likely candidate of the Republican Party in the US presidential elections in the autumn, said on Saturday that he would not defend NATO members that do not allocate enough resources to defense.
Hirss revealed that such loud statements are not new in Trump’s rhetoric. “During the last presidency, during the campaign and as far back as the late 1980s, Trump has been saying that US allies are not trustworthy, that they are cheating the US, that the US should do everything on its own,” the researcher said.
“Personally, I think that Trump has no strategic vision on geopolitics and his first priority is to talk to his electorate, which is what he systematically does […] these statements are definitely part of his election campaign,” the researcher said.
But at the same time, these statements belong to Trump’s central worldview, the way he treats the rest of the world. “His leadership style is not typical of a democratic leader and it certainly does not work well with the rest of Europe,” the expert assessed. He believes that Trump has failed to intimidate other Western leaders in the past – his aggressive, odious policies did not work in the last presidency and are unlikely to work in the next – so his current statements are most likely aimed at domestic politics, but they also carry over to foreign policy because they are his basic world view of how the world works.
Hirss noted, however, that if Trump is re-elected, there is a risk that he will have learnt how to govern the US, explaining that at the end of the last presidency Trump managed to implement his domestic and foreign policy course by replacing those who disagreed with him with people loyal to him.
He reminded that one of Trump’s closest advisers, his first national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned a month after taking office because a intelligence investigation revealed that he had secretly met with the Russian ambassador, is a pro-Kremlin figure.
“Trump has very often said and done things that are pleasing and beneficial to Russia. He criticizes his closest allies at length, while praising the leader of North Korea, the leader of Saudi Arabia and other dictators, so a Trump presidency, either in the past or potentially in the future, is not good or beneficial for Europe or the Baltic States,” the researcher said.
Asked whether the US role in NATO will change if Trump wins, Hirss said it is not that simple – even seven years ago, when Trump first became US President, he was critical of NATO and the Baltic States, but the defense budget for our region is decided by the US Congress, which already in 2014 started increasing the budget for the region, Poland, as well as other countries close to Russia. This budget was also increased during the Trump presidency. “So it’s not that everything will automatically change when Trump becomes president, but a Trump presidency is unlikely to bode well for us,” Hirss revealed.
“Trump has changed the Republican Party, made it much more radical and pro-Kremlin. There are also polls that show that during Trump’s presidency the number of people, Republicans, who say that Russia is an ally has increased significantly,” the researcher revealed.
Hirss added that we can also observe this in the last six months, when the US Congress has not been able to pass the aid package for Ukraine because the radical Republicans have blocked its further progress.
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