John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, said Thursday morning he was “disturbed” by Donald Trump’s recent remarks about NATO, according to the Palm Beach Post.
“When an American leader says ‘I’ll look at what the situation is after the Russians attack,’ that is an open invitation to Vladimir Putin,” Bolton said at an event for Florida delegates at the Republican convention, according to the Palm Beach Post.
“When he (Putin) reads this kind of statement, it’s an encouragement to him. We’re not deterring him, we’re in effect giving him a free hand. So I hope that whoever advised Mr. Trump on this rethinks it,” he added.
During an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Trump suggested he would be hesitant to honor the United States’ commitment to back up NATO nations unless certain conditions were met.
When asked whether he would provide help to NATO nations subjected to Russian aggression, Trump said he would only do so after assessing whether they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
The Trump campaign also worked to keep out of the 2016 Republican platform a call to provide arms to Ukraine in order to combat Russian aggression.
Bolton told the Florida delegates that Trump’s comment “doesn’t change my mind that I’m going to vote for Donald Trump in November, but honest to God, as a Republican Party for half a century or more, we have stood where Ronald Reagan has stood. We want peace but we want American strength to keep the peace.”
He said he agrees with Trump that NATO allies need to contribute more to their own defense, but he added that helping NATO allies is important to U.S. security.
“We’re not doing it for them. We’re doing it for us. And if we stop doing it, nobody else is going to do it for us,” he said, according to the Palm Beach Post.