President Trump, a longtime critic of NATO, went to bat for the trans-Atlantic alliance on Tuesday over “nasty” comments from French President Emmanuel Macron that NATO is “brain dead” because of lackluster US leadership.
“It’s a tough statement. When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to essentially, including them, 28 countries,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in London.
Calling Macron’s comments “very disrespectful,” Trump said France needs NATO’s military assistance more than any other European country, referring to how it was invaded in last century’s two world wars.
“Nobody needs NATO more than France – if you just look back over the last long period of time. Nobody needs NATO more than France and frankly, the one that benefits really the least is the United States. We benefit the least. We’re helping Europe,” Trump said.
“Europe unites and they go against a common foe that may or may not be a foe — can’t tell you that, but there are other foes out there also. But I think nobody needs it more than France.”
Macron, in an interview last month with The Economist, said the US is “turning its back on us.”
“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron told the magazine in an interview after Trump assured Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would move US troops from an area of northeast Syria to allow for a military operation against the Kurds.
Turkey is a NATO member and the Kurds were allies in the US fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
Since becoming president, Trump has called NATO members “delinquent” for not paying their fair share of defense spending and suggested the US could withdraw its support unless the allies increase their contributions.