The Cable

Once Again, VP Pence Moves to Soothe NATO Allies Rattled By Trump

Pence commits to allies a week after his boss refused to do so.

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Vice President Mike Pence has reassured NATO allies that the United States will live up to its commitment under Article Five, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all. Again.

This time, he did it during a speech Monday night, a week after President Donald Trump failed to mentioned Article Five at a NATO summit in Brussels. Trump’s omission surprised even those within his own administration.

The president has constantly railed against NATO members for not living up to defense spending commitments — 2 percent of total GDP — while insisting the free ride from the United States is over.

This sort of talk has alarmed many in Europe, especially as Trump has warmed to Russia, the country NATO was created to keep in check. Trump has also called the alliance “obsolete.”

Speaking at an Atlantic Council awards dinner Monday evening, however, the vice president reiterated America’s commitment to the alliance.

“Make no mistake, our commitment is unwavering,” said Pence. “We will meet our obligations to our people to provide for the collective defense of all of our allies … an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

Pence even hinted that the alliance could add new members, something Russia has repeatedly warned against. “As we look to the future, we cannot only look inward,” Pence said. “NATO’s open door must always remain so … NATO is as important today as it was at its founding nearly 70 years ago.”

This isn’t the first time Pence has had to mop up after Trump when it comes to NATO. In February, speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Pence moved to calm allies shaken by Trump’s anti-alliance rhetoric when he said, “the United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance.”

At the same time, he echoed the president’s message. “Europe’s defense requires your commitment as much as ours,”  Pence said.

Photo credit: WIN MCNAMEE/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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