Donald Trump has been very critical of NATO, the US’s most important group of allies, calling them “obsolete” and threatening to put conditions on countries for our military help. He praised them on Monday in Youngstown, OH however when he claims that they followed his advice and focused on terror.
“We will also work closely with NATO on this new mission,” Trump said of fighting ISIS and Islamic terrorism. “I had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
Trump is trying to take credit for a new NATO Intelligence Chief focused on terror and created in June. Trump tweeted that article out in July and said NATO “made the change without giving me credit.”
The post that was created was essentially an internal restructuring to help with intelligence sharing among countries. It was not a new division, it was not Trump’s idea and according to NATO it is not a big change in their continuing fight against global terrorism. The bureaucracy of NATO is very slow, as it takes a long time to organize all of the countries to do anything, much less create a new post in a few months.
According to Politifact, NATO first issued a formal declaration on terrorism in 1980. Since 9/11 NATO has been heavily involved in the invasion of Afghanistan. There are still 4000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. NATO has had a major role in global counter-terrorism since 2001.
Matthew Fay, an analyst with the Niskanen Center, told Politifact that “it is comical to suggest NATO would change its counter-terrorism policy in response to anything Donald Trump has said about it over the course of his campaign. Like his claim that he was against the invasion of Iraq, this is another reflection of the Republican nominee living in a foreign policy world of his own creation.”
In June a NATO official told Politico that “the creation of a new post of assistant secretary general for intelligence has been considered for some time, as part of our ongoing efforts to increase NATO’s readiness to deal with threats such as hybrid warfare. So there’s no connection to any national election campaign.”
Donald Trump has been very critical of NATO, and dismissive of the protective reaction clauses that are the very heart of the alliance. NATO did not begin looking at terrorism because he suggested it. They have been looking at terrorism for almost 40 years, and have been on the front lines of the war on global terrorism since 9/11. So no, Mr. Trump, they don’t need to listen to you.