WASHINGTON — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said Monday that “the credibility of the United States is at stake” with each of its alliances, including NATO, which he he former President Donald Trump disparaged in his recent remarks.
In an interview with NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt at the Pentagon, Brown was asked what he thought of Trump’s suggestion that he would allow Russia to have its way with members of NATO if they do not contribute enough to the alliance.
“This year is the 75th anniversary of NATO,” Brown said in the interview broadcast Monday evening. “And I think we have a responsibility to maintain these alliances. America’s credibility is at stake in each of our alliances, and American leadership is always needed, sought and monitored.”
He said that this is the message he is sending to NATO countries, “recognizing that each of us has political leaders with whom we must work and that it is they who set the order of the day”.
In an article published Monday afternoon by Truth Social, Trump appeared to double down on his previous comments, indicating that he would let Russia do “whatever it wants” to NATO countries that do not dedicate a specific amount of their gross domestic product to defense spending.
He declared in capital letters that NATO “must equalize,” adding: “They will if asked properly.” Otherwise, America first!
Asked if Trump’s comments alarmed him, Brown responded: “What I’m doing is focusing on building and strengthening our relationship with NATO.” And I realize that there will be various dialogues in the discussions at the political level. My job is to make sure we do everything we can with our NATO allies militarily, and I will continue to do that throughout the process.”
At a rally in South Carolina on Saturday, Trump said he would urge Russia “to do whatever they want” if it attacked a NATO country that has not paid enough for the alliance .
“Let’s say it happened. No, I wouldn’t protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do what they want,” he said. “You have to pay your bills.”
A spokesperson for President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign criticized Trump’s comments in a statement released Monday.
“Donald Trump encouraged Russia’s ruthless dictator to attack our Western democratic allies and compatriots,” said spokesman TJ Ducklo, “rightly sparking outrage across Europe and among those fighting for democracy in the world.
As president, Trump has denounced NATO and countries that do not devote the agreed-upon 2 percent of their gross domestic product to the alliance’s defense spending. He also questioned Article 5 of the NATO charter, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all and would result in a collective response.
Separately, Brown defended Biden’s mental acuity after the special counsel overseeing Biden’s mishandling of classified documents suggested he sometimes had a “poor memory.”
“He’s pretty sharp,” Brown said. “You know, he has a very good understanding of the issues. … I was even mentored from the moment I arrived and met with different people who worked very closely with the president because I want to make sure I do the right thing things. … And I’ve seen him in the Oval (Office) calling people if he doesn’t get the information he needs. … He’s sharp.
Gn En Hd