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Tentative optimism? Obama reassures world leaders Trump will observe commitment to NATO allies

15 November 2016

In the final hours of a bitter campaign, hearts sank around the globe as Donald Trump gained momentum and the 2016 presidential election ended in a shocking defeat. Not only has his nomination given life to the xenophobia, homophobia and Islamaphobia that unfortunately plagues a large portion of American society, further dividing an already divided nation, but it has also raised several concerns about how the Trump administration will affect global security and political order.

After publicly criticizing NATO during his campaign, it appears that the President-elect has made a surprising turnaround. Obama has announced Trump’s willingness to maintain these alliances, despite previously contradictory statements condemning some members for evading fiscal responsibilities. During his final tour abroad, the President has urged world leaders to keep an open mind toward Trump’s “pragmatic” approach, and to rest assured that the President-elect understands the importance of these relations for the United States, as well as for Europe and the rest of the world.

There has been growing concern, both domestic and international, about Trump’s convivial relationship with Vladimir Putin, whose military tactics make Russia an imminent threat to the Baltic States and other Eastern European nations. The Business Insider has underscored this issue, citing experts’ growing concern that newer members of NATO, especially the Baltic States, are “not rich enough or big enough to defend themselves against the Russians, and a Trump administration’s willingness to help them is very unclear”.

Protecting these nations from military threats hinges on the cooperation of powerful allies such as the United States, therefore causing real concern as to whether Trump’s new positive attitude toward NATO is grounds for cautious optimism with regards to U.S. foreign relations. Until recently, the President-elect has been the source of a number of contradictory and inflammatory statements. It remains unclear whether his statements about NATO are a guise or a change in behavior that will carry into his presidential term, as Obama has tried to reassure world leaders. Trump has demonstrated that he will aim to develop “a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia”, which could have great implications for less powerful allies should matters take a negative turn.

NHC calls on policy and advocacy groups worldwide to continue monitor these developments closely.

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