By Julian Hattem - 03/24/16 09:56 AM EDT
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSan Diego newspaper endorses Clinton Clinton proposes 'reserve' program for volunteers Voters want more from Clinton, Trump on fiscal issues, poll says MORE on Thursday doubled down on comments questioning the United States’s contributions to NATO, days after bombs went off in the treaty organization’s home base of Brussels.
N.A.T.O. is obsolete and must be changed to additionally focus on terrorism as well as some of the things it is currently focused on!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
We pay a disproportionate share of the cost of N.A.T.O. Why? It is time to renegotiate, and the time is now!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
The comments follow Tuesday’s terror attack at Brussels’ main airport and a downtown metro station, which reinforced anxieties about extremists linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Maelbeek metro station targeted by terrorists is roughly four miles from NATO's headquarters.
On Monday, Trump told The Washington Post’s editorial board that the post-World War II treaty organization “was set up at a different time” when the U.S. was “a richer country.”
“I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved,” he told the Post. “I’m not even knocking it, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s fair, we’re not treated fair.”
The comments were strongly questioned by leading security voices, who have preached the benefits of multilateral institutions such as NATO.
Having Washington turn its back on its alliances would undercut its position in the world and empower its adversaries, Trump’s critics warned in the wake of his remarks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin “already hopes to divide Europe,” Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSan Diego newspaper endorses Clinton Clinton proposes 'reserve' program for volunteers Voters want more from Clinton, Trump on fiscal issues, poll says MORE said in a speech at Stanford University on Wednesday that repeatedly hammered Trump and Ted CruzTed CruzTech groups file amicus brief opposing internet transition suit Cruz criticizes federal law enforcement on terrorism Four states sue to stop internet transition MORE, his top Republican rival.
“If Mr. Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin.”
Cruz has said that Trump’s position on NATO would be "a major victory” for not just Putin, but also ISIS.
"Donald Trump is wrong that America should withdraw from the world and abandon our allies," Cruz said on Tuesday.
“America’s power rests in its alliances and its preparedness to honor its treaty commitments,” added Adam Ereli, a former diplomat and State Department spokesman, in an interview with The Hill this week. “Casting doubt on the reliability of those commitments is insane.”
However, some analysts have noted that Trump’s comments in some ways echo complaints from President Obama, who has bemoaned “free riders” who benefit from the U.S.’s overwhelming military might.
“Free riders aggravate me,” Obama said in a recently published interview in the Atlantic.
Trump’s comments are a part of a long string of concerning policy positions that have aggravated fellow Republicans. Some prominent GOP defense minds are now openly considering siding with Clinton in a general election matchup between her and Trump.