Alwaght- President Donald Trump reportedly has privately said several times last year that he wanted to pull out the US from the NATO.
The New York Times cited unnamed senior administration officials as saying that "several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
According to the US daily, American officials feared that Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set that could lead to a breakdown in the military alliance that was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada and some European nations.
Those concerns were first sparked last year when Trump hinted that he could leave the 29-member defense bloc without Congressional approval. At the time, Trump was pushing member countries to increase spending. Since then, however, the Republican has backtracked on that threat.
After a chaotic NATO meeting in July 2018, Trump claimed that allies had committed to his request and said that U.S. withdrawal from the organization would be “unnecessary".
Trump’s dislike for participation in international organizations is well known to global leaders by now. Early in his White House tenure, the president withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord and a massive Pacific trade pact.
According to The New York Times, national security advisers are increasingly concerned over a possible pullout from NATO, as well as Trump's purported efforts to keep his encounters with Russian President Vladimir Putin secret from his own aides, and an ongoing investigation into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
"It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history. And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of", Michèle A. Flournoy, an under-secretary of defence under President Barack Obama, told the media outlet.
The newspaper further cited retired Adm. Gen. James G. Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, who said that "even discussing the idea of leaving NATO — let alone actually doing so — would be the gift of the century for Putin".
After The New York Times reached the White House for comment, a senior administration official cited Trump's remarks in July 2018, when he described Washington's commitment to the military alliance as "very strong", with the bloc itself being "very important".
The insiders, who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, assumed that with a weakened NATO, President Putin would have "more freedom to behave as he wishes", thus setting up Russia as a "counterweight" to the United States and Europe.
Although President Trump has not publicly threatened to leave the transatlantic alliance, relations between the US and Europe have hit their lowest point since he blasted other NATO members for not complying with their obligations to boost defense spending.
Trump has on numerous occasions emphasised that the other members of the bloc should pay their "fair share" and stressed that only five of the 29 member states were spending two percent of their GDP to defence, which was “insufficient to close gaps in modernising, readiness and the size of forces".