President Donald Trump repeated his unfounded claim Wednesday that his criticisms of NATO had prompted the multinational military alliance to focus more on combating terrorism.
“The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism,” Trump said during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.”
He did not specify what “change” NATO had made.
“I said it was obsolete, it’s no longer obsolete,” he said.
Trump has made that claim before, especially during the presidential campaign. He said he deserved credit, for example, for the creation of an Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence in June, telling Bloomberg that it was “all because of me.”
An unnamed NATO official told Politico a few days later that the post had been in the works “for some time” and that “there’s no connection to any national election campaign.”
My statement on NATO being obsolete and disproportionately too expensive (and unfair) for the U.S. are now, finally, receiving plaudits!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2016
See, when I said NATO was obsolete because of no terrorism protection, they made the change without giving me credit.https://t.co/sRCF1H3rjg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2016
Days before assuming the presidency in January, Trump told the Times of London and the German Bild newspaper that “I took such heat when I said NATO was obsolete,” and “It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying, ‘Trump is right.’”
After 9/11, NATO invoked Article 5 of its founding treaty out of solidarity with the United States, and thousands of NATO personnel have been, since then until today, on the ground in Afghanistan supporting the country’s security forces, and elsewhere around the world.