Just how low a bar are we willing to set for President Trump?
The president removed a section of his NATO speech last month that reaffirmed America’s commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. That’s the section that says that any attack on a NATO member is an attack on all members. It’s pretty much the entire point of NATO, and the fact that Trump is uncomfortable saying so ought to be frightening to everyone, regardless of political party. Writes Politico:
[T]he president […] disappointed—and surprised—his own top national security officials by failing to include the language reaffirming the so-called Article 5 provision in his speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump doing so and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode. They thought it was, and a White House aide even told The New York Times the day before the line was definitely included.
But surprise! The president himself yanked it out, and, with it, America’s firm commitment to NATO. More from Politico:
It was not until the next day, Thursday, May 25, when Trump started talking at an opening ceremony for NATO’s new Brussels headquarters, that the president’s national security team realized their boss had made a decision with major consequences—without consulting or even informing them in advance of the change.
This leaves Trump’s lackeys with the responsibility to clean up after their boss. And they don’t necessarily do a very good job of it, either. Writes Slate:
White House surrogates including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley have since been forced to insist that the United States remains committed to Article 5. “I mean, I think if you asked him if he was in favor of Article 5, he would say that yes, he is,” Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Actually, it’s more like that if you asked him if he was in favor of Article 5, he’d ask, “What’s Article 5?”