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Obama: Trump’s NATO comments show ‘lack of preparedness’

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Barack Obama speaks to law enforcement officers from around the country at the Advancing 21st Century Policing Briefing in the South Court Auditorium of the White House complex in Washington, Friday, July 22, 2016.

WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama says GOP nominee Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that the U.S. might not come to the defense of NATO allies is another sign of Trump’s “lack of preparedness” on foreign policy.

Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump’s comments to the New York Times — in which Trump suggested allies that haven’t paid their NATO dues wouldn’t be guaranteed of getting help if Russia invaded — were an admission that the U.S. might not live by NATO’s “most central tenet.”

Obama, speaking before the Democratic National Convention begins Monday, said Trump’s comments on NATO last week were “an indication of the lack of preparedness that he has been displaying when it comes to foreign policy.”

NATO members promise that an attack against any of them is considered an assault against all.

Trump told the Times that he wouldn’t predict the U.S. response in the case of a Russian attack of smaller NATO allies like Estonia or Latvia. “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is ‘yes,’” Trump said.

Obama responded: “There is a big difference between challenging our European allies to keep up their defense spending, particularly at a time when Russia’s been more aggressive, and saying to them, ‘You know what? We might not abide by the central tenant of the most important alliance in the history of the world.’”

In contrast, Obama said that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of State in his first term, is supremely capable of taking over the reins of power in January. He said he believes there has never been candidate better prepared for the presidency.

“She’s not always flashy. And there are better speech makers. But she knows her stuff,” Obama said.

Obama address an array of issues during the interview, including:

—race relations. He said additional scrutiny or suspicion of African-American males is “just a common experience that many of us share. But I will tell you that it’s a lot better now than it was. And that doesn’t mean that we can be complacent about it.”

—on why he used the term “radical Islam” as a candidate in 2008 but not as president. Obama said Muslim allies voiced concerns that the phrase could give the impression that “crazy groups” such as the Islamic State group or al-Qaida were carrying the mantle of Islam. He said defeating militants will require help from more than 1 billion Muslims in the word.

—whether most Americans feel safe. Obama said it’s been “a really tough month,” but that people in the U.S., he believes, “are significantly more safe now than they were before all the work that we’ve done since 9/11.”

Asked what it takes to be an effective president, Obama cited the ability to build a team of talented, hardworking people and “make sure they are all moving in the same direction.” Another factor, he said, was “personal discipline in terms of doing your homework, and knowing your subject matter, and being able to stay focused.”

And to make all this work “you have to really care about the American people… not in the abstract,” Obama said, noting that is crucial because that will help ground the president in that difficult job and prevent them from being overly influenced by polls, pressure and difficult developments.

If you don’t have that sense of grounding, “you will be buffeted and blown back and forth by polls and interest groups and voices whispering in your head,” he said. “And you will lose your center of gravity. You will lose your moral compass.”

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  • Why are we trying to save the world when we can’t take care of our own? It’s time for the rest of the free world to do their part and America start at home and cleaning up their back yard. We’ve been tax to death for handouts and to feeding the world and can’t feed our own.

  • What a hypocrite, Obama was the least prepared president in American history. Perhaps being experienced in this area, he should know, but now he wants a proven incompetent and thoroughly corrupt HilLIARy to succeed him and to complete his legacy of keeping America unexceptional and weak.

  • Saying that Mr. Trump lacks preparedness is a terrible understatement. His comments about NATO show a complete failure to learn and understand history and why that organization exists at all, and a shocking level of ignorance about our treaty obligations.

    Mr. Trump is able to garner votes because his supporters, incredibly, are even more ignorant than he is himself. And that’s really saying something.

    • And you, Klastri, have a shocking level of ignorance about what treaty obligations mean. When countries enter into treaties with other countries, they agree to comply with all terms and conditions thereof. Countries that violate treaty terms and conditions or do not fulfill their treaty obligations have no right to expect other signatories to continue supporting them unconditionally. Where did you go to law school?

      • The University of Michigan. What law school did you graduate from?

        So let me get this straight …. you have completed research on the specific terms and conditions on the treaty provisions regarding NATO, and your scholarship has determined that there has been a material default by one or more of the members? That is actually what you are suggesting?

        • Klastri, I graduated from the school of common sense. I am saying that all treaties have terms and conditions which signatories agree to follow and that failure of any signatory to fulfill its obligations under the treaty may be cause for nullification by other signatories. Since treaties require approval of the Senate, I do not believe the President can unilaterally decide not to enforce a treaty but instead must submit the matter to the Senate for nullification. If the Senate votes not to nullify, the President is obligated to comply with the treaty’s terms and conditions. Where am I wrong?

        • Ronin006 – You’re wrong everywhere. I’m not sure why you keep trying to practice constitutional law. Nothing you wrote is correct.

          You need to read Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979) and then make another attempt.

          Or you can just graduate from law school and actually know what you keep stumbling over.

        • Klastri, I said “Since treaties require approval of the Senate, I do not believe the President can unilaterally decide not to enforce a treaty but instead must submit the matter to the Senate for nullification.” You have said nothing to show my belief is wrong. With regard to Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 1979), surely you know the Supreme Court has never made an official ruling of whether the President has the authority to break or nullify a treaty without the consent of the Senate. You also should know that when dismissing the case, the Supreme Court left open the question of whether President Carter’s action in unilaterally nullifying the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of China (Taiwan) was constitutional. The court said that how foreign affairs were conducted between the President and Congress was political rather than judicial and therefore was not eligible to be heard by the court. It also noted that the case might have merited judicial review had Congress approved a resolution formally opposing Carter’s termination of the treaty, but no such resolution was introduced. So what is your point in citing Goldwater vs Carter?

  • “We might not abide by the central tenant of the most important alliance in the history of the world.’” I think the word “tenant” should be tenet. Was that a typo? Whether it be a Democratic or Republican President, we have spent billions on other nations’ military defense. We defend other countries who in turn use the very weapons we have given them against us. Then there is the current situation with China. We are defending a country, the Philippines, whose very president accused us of being the cause of a lot of problems due to our involvement in other countries. We keep helping countries like this despite being told to leave in better times. We need to focus on our own country and make a it better. We spend billions on other countries’ military but our own wounded soldiers need to rely on charitable organizations for assistance after they come home having been injured or incapacitated. If we are to send our troops to war we should take care of them should they end up losing a limb. They should not have to rely on the kindness of charity. We should take care of them, period. If we cannot afford to take care of them, we have no business sending them in harms way.

  • “Obama said Muslim allies voiced concerns that the phrase could give the impression that “crazy groups” such as the Islamic State group or al-Qaida were carrying the mantle of Islam. He said defeating militants will require help from more than 1 billion Muslims in the word”., –
    The problem is that the “crazy groups” really do carry the banner of Islam, Sunni Islam that is, and represent a much larger population than Obama is saying. If a majority of the billion Muslims worldwide actually did support the cause and help, the militant extremists would be defeated already.
    The truth is that many Sunni Muslim countries we call “Ally” actually secretly support Muslim extremism and terrorism against western countries, Christians, Jews and even Shiite Muslims. We saw it on 9/11, we saw it with the hunt for Bin Laden and we saw it when a US navy ship was blown up in the harbor of one of these so called ally countries.
    The US needs to re-examine it’s relationship with these so called “Muslim Allies”. With friends like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Pakistan, we don’t need any enemies.

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