Former President Donald Trump, who has a long history of denigrating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and who, as president, discussed removing the U.S. from the alliance, has now claimed credit for its existence. He’s also patting himself on the back for supplying Ukraine with weapons, despite once threatening to withhold security assistance from the country unless it helped smear Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election.
“I hope everyone is able to remember that it was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues, which amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump wrote in a statement released Monday. “There would be no NATO if I didn’t act strongly and swiftly.”
President Donald J. Trump:
“I hope everyone is able to remember that it was me, as President of the United States, that got delinquent NATO members to start paying their dues, which amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars. There would be no NATO if I didn't act… pic.twitter.com/i2toF05WIM
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) February 28, 2022
“It was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins) when the previous Administration was sending blankets. Let History so note!” Trump added, conveniently ignoring that he was impeached for withholding $400 million worth of congressionally approved military aid from the nation in an attempt to extort President Volodymyr Zelensky into manufacturing dirt on Biden and his family.
The statement is yet another attempt by Trump to rewrite “History” by painting himself as NATO’s greatest ally. In one of the former president’s books, The America We Deserve, which was published in 2000, he claimed that money the U.S. sent to NATO was wasted. “America has no vital interest in choosing between warring factions whose animosities go back centuries in Eastern Europe,” he wrote, according to The Daily Beast. “Their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually. The cost of stationing NATO troops in Europe is enormous. And these are clearly funds that can be put to better use.”
Trump’s acrimony toward NATO continued into his presidential campaign and throughout his administration. In a 2016 interview with The New York Times, Trump described NATO as “obsolete” and “unfair, economically, to … the United States.” As president, Trump berated other NATO nations for not meeting certain fundraising benchmarks and toyed with the idea of leaving the alliance. According to the Times, Trump in 2018 “told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.”
Reacting to the news Trump wanted to withdraw from NATO, Michèle A. Flournoy, who served as under secretary of defense under former President Barack Obama, told the Times that to do so “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests.”
While he is now trying to portray himself as Ukraine’s savior and on Saturday called Russia’s attack “appalling,” Trump only days before praised Putin for the invasion, saying on a podcast, “Putin declared a big portion of … Ukraine … as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. … I said, ‘How smart is that?’”