Biden Slams Trump for NATO Comments, Urges Republicans to Fund Ukraine

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered a forceful refutation of challenger Donald Trump’s harsh criticism of NATO, seeking to portray support for the former president as a threat to American interests.

House Republicans deciding whether to support a congressional measure providing support for Ukraine’s defense must choose to “stand with America or Trump,” he said.

Speaking at the White House, Biden slammed weekend remarks in which Trump said that when he was president, he told NATO leaders he would not defend members who failed to meet their financial commitments to the security bloc — and that he would, in fact, support Russian aggression against them.

“I would encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want,” Trump said he told another head of state.

“No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator,” Biden said Tuesday. “Let me say this as clearly as I can: I never will. For God’s sake, it’s dumb, it’s shameful, it’s dangerous, it’s un-American.”

Biden spoke Tuesday to urge House lawmakers to pass a $95 billion security aid package for Ukraine and Israel. The Senate approved the spending package earlier Tuesday.

“This bipartisan bill sends a clear message to Ukrainians, and to our partners, and to our allies around the world: America can be trusted,” Biden said.

“America can be relied upon, and America stands up for freedom. We stand strong for our allies. We never bow down to anyone and certainly not to Vladimir Putin. So let’s get on with this. Remember, the United States pulled together a coalition of nearly 50 nations to support Ukraine.”

Biden also used the former president as a foil to sketch out fundamental principles of his foreign policy.

“When [Trump] looks at NATO, he doesn’t see the alliance that protects America and the world,” Biden said. “He sees a protection racket. He doesn’t understand that NATO is built on fundamental principles of freedom, security and national sovereignty.”

And, Biden claimed, Trump’s doctrine caters not to Americans, but their enemies.

“Our adversaries have long sought to create cracks in the alliance,” he said. “The greatest hope of all those who wish America harm is for NATO to fall apart. You can be sure that they all cheered when they heard Donald Trump.”

Biden’s political critics did not immediately respond to his comments. But experts in presidential rhetoric note that Biden employed a classic tactic that has worked in the past.

“Which is that presidents always look more presidential — and he needs to look more presidential — when they’re getting tough against foreign dictators,” said Jeremi Suri, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “That’s a good issue for him to show that he’s capable. That’s an old trope — almost too easy a trope.”

And, he said, Biden’s words could resonate among Republican lawmakers.

“I think this is going to have very real world implications, because I think that the pressure is building for many Republicans who are running for reelection in the House to show that they are not crazy on foreign policy,” he said.

VOA asked two representatives of the Trump campaign what the former president made of Biden’s words. They did not immediately respond.

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