A top NATO general said Wednesday that President-elect Donald Trump's suggestion that the United States might abandon its NATO treaty commitments is not serious because the treaty is so binding and important to America and its allies that no president "would dare" change it.
Czech Army Gen. Petr Pavel said NATO's Article 5 mutual defense clause is quite clear and NATO will come to the defense, unconditionally, of any fellow member who is attacked.
Pavel, chairman of NATO's Military Committee, made the remarks to The Associated Press ahead of this weekend's Halifax International Security Forum — the first major national security conference since Trump's election.
Trump's mere musing during the presidential campaign that he would review allies' financial contributions — in this case contributions owed by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — before acting under NATO's Article 5 mutual defense clause if they were attacked by Russia could rock the foundations of the security architecture that has underpinned European stability since the end of World War II. Trump has also called NATO "obsolete" and a bad deal for America.
"The continuity of the trans-Atlantic relationship, spanning almost 70 years, is simply so binding that no American president would dare be able to change it, and even not willing, because we understand on sides on both sides of the Atlantic that NATO is as important to European allies as it is to North America and we have a treaty that is binding to all of us," Pavel said....
"Article 5 is quite clear," Pavel said. "I believe this commitment will be met whatever the situation. I also believe that it is necessary that all European allies do their best to meet their commitments."
Pavel said it is "absolutely justified" that pressure will be stepped up on members to meet their obligations and said the U.S. is carrying too much of the burden but he took issue with Trump slagging NATO. "I would absolutely not call NATO obsolete. NATO is relevant as ever," he said.