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What would a second Trump presidency look like?

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THREATENING TO ABANDON ALLIES

On foreign policy, observers said that the US cannot sustain all its commitments in various regions and will have to make hard choices soon.

Mr Trump has frequently highlighted the failure of some North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to commit a minimum of 2 per cent of their gross domestic product to defence spending.

“I think there is a recognition that the Europeans do have to increase defence spending, to rebuild their industrial defence capability, so that the US can step back (and) let Europeans take care of European security and give priority to the Indo-Pacific,” said Dr Adrian Ang, research fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). 

Out of the 32 NATO member states, 20 now meet that 2 per cent target and are focused on supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Mr Trump has threatened that he would not defend NATO allies that fail to spend enough on defence, and would even encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want”.

“I think that’s more of a scare tactic to get the Europeans to sit up and finally pay their fair share,” Dr Ang, who is also the US programme coordinator at RSIS’ Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, told CNA’s Asia Tonight on Tuesday (May 7). 

Enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO’s founding document, is the principle of collective defence, where an attack on one member is considered an attack on all of them.

Calling this principle into question – as Mr Trump has repeatedly done, including in recent months – undermines the credibility of NATO’s pledge, said Dr Constanze Stelzenmüller.

A new law passed last year prohibits a president from unilaterally withdrawing from NATO without approval of a two-thirds Senate majority or an act of Congress, noted Dr Stelzenmüller, who is director of the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe.

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