Risk Donald Trump will withdraw US from Nato is another reason why UK must rearm – Scotsman comment

Donald Trump’s remark that he would encourage Russia to attack a Nato member that hadn’t been spending enough on defence adds to informed concern that he will withdraw the US from the alliance if elected president

The day after Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, The Scotsman called for the UK to “significantly increase” the fighting strength of its Armed Forces. It is a call we reiterated last month, following warnings by Rob Bauer, chair of Nato’s Military Committee, that people should prepare for a full-scale war with Russia.

Today we repeat the same message again: the UK must rearm. The reason is not because of a renewed threat from some despot but the risk that the US, the world’s strongest defender of democratic freedoms, will abandon the field if Donald Trump is re-elected president.

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At a campaign rally in South Carolina, he claimed he had told an unidentified Nato member that, if they were attacked by Russia but had not been meeting the alliance’s spending target of two per cent of GDP on defence, “I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want...”

The remarks prompted Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg to say that any suggestion the allies would not defend each other “undermines all of our security”; UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who stressed Nato “is what helps to keep us safe”, also said Trump’s comment was “not a sensible approach”.

Last year, John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, warned that while his former boss would not be able to overturn US democracy if he became president, this “erratic, irrational” man would “almost certainly withdraw [the US] from Nato”.

According to a recent YouGov poll, Trump is set to win slightly more votes than incumbent President Joe Biden in November. While how this breaks down in individual states will be important, it looks like being an extremely close race. So the prospect of a Trump second term is very real. Even if he loses, Trumpian politics are clearly playing well among many Republicans and a future candidate may well copy his approach.

Relying on an unreliable ally when faced with an enemy such as Putin would be a huge mistake. The UK’s Armed Forces are in a parlous state. That needs to be put right, and quickly.



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