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Feb 12, 2024, 10:50am EST
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Semafor Signals

How the world’s media reacted to Trump’s NATO comments

Insights from BBC, The Economist, Le Monde, the Global Times, and the Times of India

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Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he holds a campaign rally at Coastal Carolina University ahead of the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in Conway, South Carolina, U.S., February 10, 2024. REUTERS/Sam Wolfe
REUTERS/Sam Wolfe
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Former U.S. President Donald Trump said at a campaign rally this weekend that he’d let Russia attack NATO members that did not pay their fair share, prompting a swift rebuke from the military alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump said he told an unnamed NATO member that he would not help them if they had not paid their dues to the bloc, telling his supporters: “In fact I would encourage [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay.”

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Stoltenberg said that he expects that “regardless of who wins the presidential election the U.S. will remain a strong and committed Nato ally.”

Republicans said they were unconcerned about the comments, and maintained that the former president and likely 2024 nominee was simply “trying to make a point.”

Here’s how global media reacted to Trump’s comments.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Trump’s NATO comments may lead Russia and China to doubt US commitment to allies

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Sources:  
BBC, The Economist, Le Monde

The comments are “typical Trump fare” meant to provoke and outrage, BBC’s Frank Gardner wrote, but they could risk “a massive miscalculation” if aggressors like “Vladimir Putin in Europe or Xi Jinping in the South China Sea begin to doubt Washington’s commitment to defend its allies.” The Trump of 2024 is “likely to prove the wrecker of the Western alliance,” The Economist wrote. While Trump isn’t the first president to complain about the state of NATO, he is the first to bully its members so openly. “Deterrence works when the commitment to collective defence is absolute and unambiguous,” the paper argued.

Trump’s view of NATO to date has been “largely transactional,” France’s Le Monde wrote, so it’s unsurprising that he would regard it “as something akin to a mere homeowners association, in which the expenses are unevenly distributed.” Le Monte noted that in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Trump wrote that “[Eastern European] conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save … millions of dollars annually.”

Trump’s rhetoric echoed that of a ‘mob boss’

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Source:  
The Times of India

Trump’s remarks have set off alarms amongst the Washington establishment, including the White House, which was quick to highlight President Joe Biden’s record on NATO defense. Trump’s comments were “evocative of a mob boss running a protection racket,” Times of India columnist Chidanand Rajghatta wrote. The former president’s recent anti-NATO rhetoric has gone further than his past comments, and feeds into Americans’ “growing scepticism and weariness… about the U.S. having to foot the bill for the security of its allies and partners, without taking care of its own borders,” Rajghatta wrote.

US-led NATO will be dangerous for Europe regardless of who wins 2024 election, China says

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Source:  
The Global Times

The 2024 U.S. presidential election will have major ramifications for how long the Russia-Ukraine war will last, The Global Times, a state-affiliated Chinese media outlet, wrote Sunday. But regardless of who wins in November, “no one can deny how dangerous the US-led NATO is for Europe,” the tabloid opined. To date, the Global Times reporter wrote, Biden has exploited Europe, and Trump doesn’t care if another conflict breaks out on the continent. “Ukraine is not the only one bleeding. The longer the conflict continues, the more likely it will become a burden for the US.”

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