Ex-president and the likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shocked Europe again at the weekend let’s talk About NATO and the US commitment to the military alliance.
Trump said that the United States under his leadership would not protect NATO countries that do not pay their share of defense spending from Russian attack.
“No, I wouldn’t protect you. In fact, I would encourage them (Russia) to do whatever they like. You have to pay,” Trump said.
Newly elected president Alexander Stubb urged on Monday at a press conference he calmed down and stated that “American election rhetoric is different”.
So can it be safely assumed that it’s just a matter of talking hard?
American professor of communication and history specializing in politics Leonard Steinhorn considers that no.
“The important thing is to listen simply and specifically to what he says.”
Steinhorn does not comment on Stubb’s statement, but speaks generally about what to expect in Trump’s possible second term. The interview took place in January.
In the professor’s opinion, during Trump’s first term, many fell into a miscalculation, thinking that he would be somehow different as president in the end than when he was campaigning.
“Then when he became president, people were shocked and appalled by what he did. But they shouldn’t have been,” says Steinhorn. “Once again: you should have listened carefully to what Trump said.”
In Steinhorn’s opinion, Trump is very direct and unfussy in his communication. What he’s talking about is very likely to be the first thing he plans to tackle as president.
Is of course it’s true that Trump’s supporters want to hear tough talk. It is also true that Trump did not implement all of his election speeches in his last term as president.
However, in Steinhorn’s opinion, it was not so much a matter of lack of will, but, for example, that others prevented him from realizing his desires.
If he were re-elected to the White House, there would be fewer restraints than before. He has been preparing for a return for a long time and, for example, surrounded himself with like-minded people, among whom there are no doubters.
How Should you be worried about Trump’s NATO speeches?
“They have to be taken seriously,” Steinhorn says, noting that Trump has long complained about “free riders”, i.e. NATO member countries, which do not pay their share of defense spending.
Steinhorn is a friend of the much-talked about “plan b” and thinks that all US allies should be prepared for Trump becoming president.
“He has talked about leaving NATO and made admiring comments (Vladimir) About Putin. He can fundamentally change the foreign policy of the United States.”