John Kerry on Trump’s NATO Remarks: ‘I’ve Never Seen a President Say Anything as Strange or Counterproductive’

By Melanie Arter | July 11, 2018 | 3:43 PM EDT

Former Secretary of State John Kerry (Screenshot)

( – Former Secretary of State John Kerry blasted President Donald Trump for criticizing NATO allies for not contributing two percent of their country’s GDP for defense and for specifically calling out Germany for being energy dependent and therefore “captive to Russia.”

“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. President Trump makes adversaries out of our friends, and turns our adversary, who has been attacking America’s democracy, into his fawned-over ally. Why?” Kerry tweeted.

As reported, at a breakfast meeting in Belgium with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump thumped Germany for buying oil and gas from Russia -- the country that NATO was formed to protect against.

"You're just making Russia richer," Trump said. "I think trade is wonderful. I think energy is a whole different story."

He said countries like Poland refuse to buy Russian energy “because they don't want to be captive to Russia. But Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we're supposed to protect Germany, but they're getting their energy from Russia. Explain that.”

“Why would an American president whose first NATO meeting last year was a disaster, show up in Belgium this year just to prove he doesn’t understand how vital alliances have made a huge difference for the security of the United States and the lives of Europeans?” Kerry asked.

The former secretary of state said Trump should remember that NATO allies “stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States after 9/11, among many other contributions.” He also accused Trump of setting America back.

“He is steadily destroying our 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,” Kerry said.

Kerry, who served as secretary of state for President Barack Obama, said that Obama had raised the issue of NATO members paying more for defense “in a constructive and collegial way that succeeded in securing a pledge from NATO members to increase their defense spending, without undermining the cohesion of the alliance in the process.”

“Defense spending by our allies needs to, and is, being increased. Each year, nations have been increasing their contribution, even as they have taken a hit to their own economies by putting in place tough sanctions against Russia for its behavior in Ukraine. President Obama and I worked hard using effective diplomacy – not bombast and demagoguery – to secure those sanctions in the first place,” Kerry said.

“So too is European energy security an important topic for allies to discuss, even when they disagree. Instead, President Trump just insults friends who have sacrificed to hold that pressure together. There’s 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 isn’t it,” he added.

“What was on display in Brussels today was not the behavior 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 yesterday clearly showed – who know and need to say it,” Kerry said.

He was referring to the Senate voting 97-2 in favor of a nonbinding motion expressing “iron-clad” support for NATO.

Meanwhile, former CIA Director John Brennan, who served under President Barack Obama, also took Trump to task for his handling of NATO allies, tweeting, “It is in the interest of America’s security if NATO leaders push back against the reckless behavior of Donald Trump, who is dangerously naive & grossly ignorant of how the world works. History inevitably will regard Trump as one of the most disastrous figures of the 21st century.”


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