Amb. Burns: Trump’s Words to NATO ‘Diplomatic Malpractice’



President Donald Trump’s strong words to NATO over its members’ spending and to Germany over oil and gas purchases from Russia were aimed at pleasing his own political base and constituted “diplomatic malpractice,” former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns said Wednesday.

“It’s just infuriating to see this happen,” Burns, who served as ambassador from 2001-2005 under former President George W. Bush, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“What is the point of this? It’s all about politics and the president’s base. It’s not about the power of the United States, this incredible alliance we’ve built, every president from [Harry] Truman. It’s diplomatic malpractice.”

Trump on Wednesday, during an exchange over breakfast with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other officials, complained that the United States is protecting Germany after it made a “massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where we’re supposed to be guarding against Russia.”

He also tore into NATO allies’ defense spending during his opening salvos.

Burns said it was “Orwellian” to see Trump’s actions.

“I can’t imagine any american president all the way back 75 years deciding to become the critic in chief of NATO,” said Burns. “It’s Orwellian. He’s making our friends out to be our enemies and he’s treating our enemies like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as our friends and he’s misrepresenting the facts.”

There have been “four straight years” of budget increases coming from every NATO ally, the former ambassador said, adding that “the great majority of them will be at this magical 2 percent of gross domestic product level by 2024.”

Meanwhile, all the United States’ ability to project power in the Middle East and Afghanistan comes from European air and naval bases, “that the Europeans pay for.”

“They pay us $2.5 billion a year to keep our forces there,” said Burns. “It would cost us more money to bring the troops home than to keep them in Europe.”


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