U.S. House of Representatives
Like many of you, members of my family served in our armed forces during times of war to protect our nation, and our allies against aggression and invasion. Historically, more than any other nation on earth, the United States has been relied upon by others to come to their defense and, when necessary, to protect them.
Perhaps the most importance military and cultural alliance we have with other nations for mutual defense is NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was established in 1949 as a counterbalance to Russian encroachment in Europe.
Certainly, our NATO allies – like many of us – were shocked recently when our president embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin while turning his back on American intelligence agencies, along with the men and women who risk their lives while serving our nation.
NATO consists of 29 of the world’s leading democracies, including Germany, France, Great Britain, Norway, Spain, Belgium and Canada. NATO members are committed to one another’s economic growth, stability and military protection.
Because of statements made before and after the presidential election by President Trump, some NATO members are concerned about whether the United States can be relied upon during a time of military crisis, and whether or not we are fully committed to the principles of the alliance.
Our NATO allies must look beyond the rhetoric and be assured that the American people stand shoulder to shoulder with them just as they stood with us after our nation was attacked by domestic terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
Our European partners, for the most part, are also members of the European Union, which Trump sadly called a “foe” during his recent trip to Europe. The comment was a mistake and flies in the face of the fond and earnest relationships we have built with our European allies, beginning seventy years ago.
The president must also remember that many of our NATO allies have troops fighting side by side with American soldiers against Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan. The soldiers of the countries that he belittles are risking their lives, and dying for a cause that our country believes is righteous.
Trump must also understand that NATO is critical to the safety of the United States and its people. No one country can defeat evil on its own. It is just not the case in today’s world.
While the president is new to diplomacy and international relationships, his behavior toward our allies in Europe and in other places in the world is inexcusable.
He must abandon the role of a reality television host and assume the mantle of a statesman, a leader that is able to achieve consensus, and earns the respect of world leaders. That is how we continue to build bridges with our allies. It is not accomplished by destroying that which took decades to create.
U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.