Yes, Trump is Wrong About NATO.

Offering our NATO allies as free real estate to tyrants is not the mark of greatness.

By Ben Chamberlin


Former President Donald Trump’s latest comments aren’t winning the Republican Party any friends at NATO. At a rally last week, Trump said that, if elected, he would encourage Russia to attack NATO member Poland, saying he would “encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want.”  

Trump believes Poland has not spent enough on national defense, and is therefore solely responsible for defending itself against a Russian attack. The former president’s argument has brought praise from isolationists and harsh criticism from liberal internationalists. Many isolationists ask the question: why should the United States spend money on foreign affairs when these countries refuse to spend money on themselves? 


The Other Side

Some Trump critics point out that if Poland, our NATO ally, is attacked, the United States is required to respond—the US has no right to say that they will protect some allies and not others. Further, by not upholding NATO standards, the United States will alienate itself and increase the risk of the United States receiving no aid from the treaty members.  

While the isolationist approach seems appealing in theory, seeking to build up national assets while forcing allies to become fully self-sufficient, the idea that one country should cut itself off from the world causes serious problems.  



Even if you do not bother anyone, bad people will still bother you. Think of middle school—no normal person seeks to be bullied, yet it still happens. Tyrannical dictators are no different. Historically, consider Neville Chamberlain who sought to avoid involvement with Germany, avoiding the problem even as the world hovered on the brink of war. Or when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor as the American public was staunchly isolationist during the early 1940s. The Nazis and Japan did not care that England or America did not want to wage war. The Axis bullies still attacked, they still dropped bombs, and WW2 began.  

Some isolationists also make historical arguments, appealing to George Washington who urged against “fondness” towards some nations and “hatred” for others in his farewell address. Washington and Jefferson, however, seemed bothered when France decided against neutrality during the Revolutionary War. Furthermore, the United States Constitution, which Washington signed, gave the Executive branch the ability to make treaties… like NATO

Although Washington did say to not have favorites, he did believe in making allies through treaties and gaining positive standing around the world. This is not to say that Washington is a hypocrite. Men, even Washington, are fallible. 


Moving Forward

Tyrants like Vladimir Putin are not rational men who should be placated. Give a tyrant an inch, he will take a mile. Plato describes despots as men who are slaves to their desires. Regardless of one’s personal thoughts on Biden and Trump, the United States government is set up to prevent tyrants, whereas Russia is not.

I would much rather have the United States help maintain global order, knowing that the U.S. is a superpower that will not invade another country, than for Russia to control economic routes and mediate treaties. While countries like Poland may rely on the United States for its protection, presidents should not make ultimatums that leave our allies as free real estate. The United States must remain open to helping these countries to better protect itself. 


About the Author

Ben Chamberlin is a junior at Grove City College with a major in political science and a minor in business. Ben is a contributing writer to the Collegian, plays intramural soccer, is an avid snowboarder, and was a resident assistant over the 2021-2022 school year. In 2022, Ben was a summer associate at the Vogel Group, a bipartisan lobbying firm, in Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.