Trump walks a tightrope with comments on NATO

Trump walks a tightrope with comments on NATO
This is not leadership on the world stage. The president’s latest actions and remarks in Brussels regarding NATO are not the way to pressure American allies on key geopolitical issues. In the past 24 hours, we have seen conflicting statements from the president himself on what has to be mystifying signals to the world on where in fact the United States needs NATO partners, and where it does not.
 
The president must remember he does not speak for himself, but a nation that has coordinated and diplomatically positioned itself through prior administrations to arrive at this point. His is a White House that is merely one fixed element in a long and sensitive continuum of time. This issue with the agreement struck today is that there are no penalties for countries who don’t pay their fair share. There’s also nothing in the agreement that would make countries stick with paying 2 percent of their GDP — assuming they ever even get there. However, the argument that such alliances should be economically equitable is plausible and a logical disposition to maintain, particularly when even at 2 percent the United States will still pay more by virtue of us having the world’s largest economy.
 
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We can certainly debate President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s approach, yet setting that aside for the moment, the underlying premise of his argument is a legitimate one that former presidents have made going all the way back to the 1960's. I have long admired President Trump’s leadership and ability to stand in the gap where other presidents have demurred to state what is right for the direction of the country. But attacking Germany, publicly questioning commitments from other countries, and making rhetorical claims that don’t hold up under further analysis are not deft negotiating tactics. They merely appear as bullying rants.
 
 
America is not a bully. We should use our strength and awesome resources that the world has come to respect to leverage for our national interests. And importantly, we should look to bring our allies and those who share our beliefs in general agreement with where we believe the world should go to combat terrorism, end human trafficking, battle hunger, etc. Foreign policy is all about building and maintaining relationships. And world leaders are not going to allow themselves to be embarrassed or pushed around on the world stage by the United States, no matter if they respond from a position of strength or weakness. Russia and North Korea are two prime examples. 
 
Broadly speaking, those leaders have their own constituents to answer to and in some instances, may be forced to stand up to president Trump, effectively creating a stalemate and making it a lot harder for the president to actually accomplish what he is attempting to accomplish. That end? Expedite the each nation’s financial responsibility to NATO. We do that through the lens of American exceptionalism that reveals the world’s best days are ahead of us, not behind. And I fear the president’s actions only send a message of fear and anxiety that has not come to reflect our time-honored message of hope for the world.
 
We need to find common ground with our NATO allies in order maintain a healthy alliance. That is both a worthy and an accomplishable goal. If the United States is going to be in an alliance with other world nations and agree to pay a certain percentage of their GDP, that agreement should be equitable.
 
An agreement means nothing if it’s not equally executed. Right now, our agreement with NATO allies is not equally yoked. However, the president must be careful not to diminish our longstanding role as world leader. By doing so, he risks creating a vacuum and someone will
have to fill it. Heaven forbid that substitute could be China or possibly even Russia, and such a reality is not only against the interests of the United States, but also the rest of the world.
 
Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is author of the book "Reawakening Virtues." He served as an adviser and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson's 2016 presidential campaign, and is on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.