NATO Summit: John Kerry slams Donald Trump's 'destructive' demands of members to double defence spending

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry has slammed President Donald Trump's remarks at the NATO Summit, calling it 'disgraceful' and 'destructive' that went against America's interests.

Press Trust of India July 12, 2018 10:51:06 IST
NATO Summit: John Kerry slams Donald Trump's 'destructive' demands of members to double defence spending

Washington: Former US Secretary of State John Kerry has slammed President Donald Trump's remarks at the NATO Summit, calling it "disgraceful" and "destructive" that went against America's interests.

NATO Summit John Kerry slams Donald Trumps destructive demands of members to double defence spending

File image of former US Secretary of State John Kerry. AP

At the NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday, Trump shocked allies by demanding that members double their defence spending commitments. His surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling Germany a "captive" of Russia because of its gas links. "I've never seen a President say anything as strange or counterproductive as President Trump's harangue against NATO and Germany. It was disgraceful, destructive, and flies in the face of the actual interests of the United States of America," Kerry said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Kerry, who served as the Secretary of State from 2013-17, said Trump makes public adversaries out of its friends, and turns US adversary, who has been attacking America's democracy, into his fawned-over ally. He wondered why would an American president, whose first NATO meeting last year was a "disaster", show up in Belgium this year just to prove he "does not understand" how vital alliances have made a huge difference for the security of the United States and the lives of Europeans.

Reminding that NATO stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States after the 9/11 attacks, Kerry alleged that Trump has "set America back" with his NATO speech and "steadily destroying" the country's reputation in the world. "He is undermining our interests. He diminishes alliances we built to safeguard an economic and strategic force that has allowed millions of people to live in freedom. Moreover, he displays a woeful ignorance of the work his predecessor's administration did to increase European defense spending.

"(Former) President (Barack) Obama raised the issue in a constructive and collegial way that succeeded in securing a pledge from NATO members to increase their defence spending, without undermining the cohesion of the alliance in the process," Kerry said. He said nations have been increasing their contribution each year, even as they have taken a hit to their own economies by putting in place tough sanctions against Russia for its behaviour in Ukraine. He said Obama and him used effective diplomacy – not bombast and demagoguery – to secure those sanctions in the first place. "Instead, President Trump just insults friends who have sacrificed to hold that pressure together."

There is a time, place, and manner for raising issues with allies, and trashing them on camera in a way that calls into question the alliance itself is not it, Kerry added. He described Trump's behaviour at Brussels as not being of a strong, principled and wise leader. "Enough. This isn't good for the United States and there are people across the aisle – as the Senate vote clearly showed – who know it and need to say it," Kerry wrote.

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