E ISSN 2587-5396

29/12/2016 By yatage

The U.S. presidential elections and its impact on NATO

%e1%83%9b%e1%83%9d%e1%83%9a%e1%83%9d%e1%83%93%e1%83%98%e1%83%9c%e1%83%94%e1%83%91%e1%83%98-%e1%83%95%e1%83%90%e1%83%a0%e1%83%a8%e1%83%90%e1%83%95%e1%83%98%e1%83%a1-%e1%83%a1%e1%83%90%e1%83%9b%e1%83%98The country’s foreign policy equally depends on the internal political, economic and social processes, as well as, on the international environment, whether on a regional or global level. For every democratic society, elections are essential allowing citizens to assess the domestic and foreign policy of the past years and decide whether to support previous political force or choose a new path.

Election of a new party will probably change countries internal and international political priorities. U.S. is the largest and the most powerful partner for NATO, that’s why 2016 presidential elections were in the centre of world’s attention, especially after the republican candidate Donald Trump’s isolationistic comments about U.S. foreign policy and his uncertain attitude towards the NATO’s collective defense principle, The Washington Treaty Article N5: “An attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies”[1]. The current US president paid attention to the financial commitment of allies and declared that American support would depend on the willingness of these countries to pay their fair share for joint military defense. Those countries, which carry out their duties, can always count on the United States support[2].

NATO has been pushing its member states to spend more for years. The alliance increased overall defense spending for the first time in several decades of existence in 2002. This means that allies should spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense[3]. This is crucial at the time of increased instability, including more assertive Russia, the threat of Islamic State, turmoil in the Middle East and cyber warfare. New spending data shows that U.S. shells out far more money on defense than other allies altogether. Other than the United States only four NATO countries – Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland – meet the target. The rest of them, including France and Germany, lag behind. Iceland, which doesn’t even have its own army, spends just 0.1% of its GDP on defense, which is much lower than previous NATO demand[4].

It will be sensible to bear in mind the issues raised by Mr. Donald Trump, but so far we don’t have any reason to get alarmed. It is expected that Trump’s presidency will change U.S. foreign or internal policy, but we should not expect radical changes. The foreign policy decision-making process in the US is the result of countless interactions and arrangements between different branches of government, and even the president is not able to simply dictate a new strategy. Besides, most of U.S officials continue to share the same basic foreign policy goals.

Trump and Obama’s administrations have always shared many similar foreign policy objectives, even though Trump made every effort during his campaign to criticize Obama’s policies. At first, both Trump and Obama administrations have made it clear, they intend to ensure that the United States remains the most dominant military power in the world. As Donald Trump stated, “Our military dominance must be unquestioned”. He also demonstrated the similar commitment to other fundamental issues. For instance, Trump has declared, that he intends to prioritize the interests of the U.S. over everything else. Indeed, Trump insisted that he would base his foreign policy on the premise that the United States took actions which work to the advantage of the country. Although the Obama administration has not used the same slogans, it has adopted an “America – in the first place” strategy[5].

The global political system has somehow changed the concept of the world leadership. As every single country is involved in the number of complex interactions, it is impossible to take leading positions based on isolationistic policy. That’s why U.S. foreign policy won’t probably change dramatically in the future, including relations with NATO. With the strongest military and economy, the United States is one of the most dominant powers, but without reliable allies, sooner or later, this position will be questionable. Europe needs America and America needs Europe.

It is worthy to mention that the first and the only time NATO had invoked its self-defense clause, was in support of the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001[6]. The alliance has played a significant role in helping U.S., taking a vital part in operations in Afghanistan starting in 2003. Thousands of European troops had served there and more than 1000 soldiers had died in that mission[7].  This fact implies certain obligations for the U.S.  Furthermore, Mr. Trump’s insistence that Europe must pay more, is hardly a new demand, we heard the same message from other leading American officials, including president Obama and almost every member of congress. So it’s quite possible that European countries will take actions to increase defense spending.

In a conclusion, future relations between U.S. and NATO seem to become more pragmatic, but any fundamental changes aren’t expected.

Author: Zina Shatakishvili

[1] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_110496.htm

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/us/politics/donald-trump-foreign-policy-interview.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=0

[3] http://time.com/4569578/donald-trump-nato-alliance-europe-afghanistan/

[4] http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/08/news/nato-summit-spending-countries/

[5] https://lobelog.com/obama-trump-and-the-future-of-u-s-foreign-policy/

[6] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_110496.htm

[7] http://icasualties.org/OEF/