In Interview, Trump Appears To Question NATO's 'Collective Defense' Clause

Posted July 22, 2018

The tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro responded Thursday to US President Donald Trump's remark that it is a "very aggressive" country by saying it was proud of its "peaceful politics" and "stabilizing" influence in the region.

When asked by Fox News Tuesday whether United States troops should defend the Adriatic Sea country from attack as required under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, Trump said he'd "asked the same question".

Darmanovic took a generous view of Trump's comments, suggesting the US President was making a broader point.

Asked if her confidence in the U.S. alliance had been shaken by Mr Trump's visits to NATO, Helsinki and in the washup, Ms Payne pointed out that she and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop would be on the USA west coast next week to meet their United States counterparts.

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TRUMP: No, by the way, they have very strong people - they have very aggressive people. They have very aggressive people.

SHAPIRO: And so when President Trump says they have very aggressive people, you don't think he's speaking about Montenegro specifically.

He said the President has some mighty big "huevos" to go after Montenegro like that before saying, "Trump is gonna be so mad when he finds out what idiot approved Montenegro's membership in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation previous year.... and it's Donald Trump".

In a statement on Thursday Montenegro defended its history of "peaceful politics", saying the country "contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent but worldwide, along with USA soldiers in Afghanistan".

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"We build friendships, and we have not lost a single one, and at the same time, we are able to boldly and defensively protect and defend our own national interests", the Montenegrin government said in a statement. The U.S. Senate voted 97 to 2 in favor of Montenegro's accession, but Russian Federation publicly opposed Montenegro's efforts to join.

"NATO's collective defense clause, Article 5 (of the Charter) is unconditional and as if made of reinforced concrete".

Even Republicans usually supportive of Trump, such as House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan were forced to spell out that Trump "must appreciate that Russian Federation is not our ally", while those that are typically critics of the president like Republican Senator John McCain did not hold back. Trump can correctly say that he needs to shore up the security of NATO's East European allies because of the German government's sign-off on the pipeline. He's right. The pipeline not only makes Germany more dependent on Moscow for energy, it also risks the security of Poland and other Eastern European allies.

McCain expounded on his views in an op-ed piece for USA Today, in which he pointed to the recent indictments of two Russians in connection with an alleged coup attempt in late 2016 in Montenegro. Expanding the alliance creates new commitments for the USA that we don't need, but it also ends up pulling the new allies into wars that have nothing to do with them.

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Last week at an worldwide summit of all NATO's leaders, Mr Trump renewed this debate, arguing many other countries weren't paying what they should.

With such a small military, it is hard to know what Trump was referring to when he called Montenegro's people "very aggressive".

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