President Trump, who rattled U.S. allies at a NATO meeting last week, voiced concern in a television interview broadcast Tuesday night that sending troops from the alliance to defend an “aggressive” Montenegro could result in World War III.
Trump was asked about Montenegro, which joined NATO last year and has a population smaller than the District of Columbia, during a Fox News interview with host Tucker Carlson.
Carlson pressed Trump on the purpose of the alliance, which was created in 1949 to protect the United States, Canada and a host of Western European nations from Soviet incursion. The organization calls for member nations to come to the aid of any ally that is attacked.
“Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?” Carlson asked in the interview, which was recorded Monday following Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
“I understand what you’re saying, I’ve asked the same question,” Trump responded. “You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up. Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago.”
Article 5 — the provision that calls for NATO members to come to the aid of allies under attack — has been invoked only once, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. It does not apply in cases in which a NATO member is the aggressor.
Trump’s comments came after a NATO meeting in Brussels last week in which he upbraided allies for not living up to an agreement on how much they should pay for defense. The president also criticized Germany for a natural gas pipeline deal with Russia, saying it made the country “captive” to Russia.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, John Wagner