Trump hints at bringing Brazil into NATO after meeting with Bolsonaro
New York Daily News
President Trump is operating in the wrong hemisphere.
Trump raised eyebrows Tuesday after he suggested “possibly” making Brazil a member of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization made up of North American and European countries. The apparent off-script remark took place during a joint conference with the new leader of the South American country, Jair Bolsonaro, in the Rose Garden.
“So President Bolsonaro, I will tell you that we will be consulting and talking a lot,” Trump said. “We will be working on all of our problems and assets and we’re making tremendous assets.
“I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally or even, possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally. I’d have to talk to a lot of people, but maybe a NATO ally, which would greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries.”
NATO is a 29-member international alliance created in 1949 to provide security against the Soviet Union. Trump has fiercely criticized the group in the past and even discussed withdrawing from the alliance.
The latest country to join NATO was Montenegro in 2017. Rules for expansion are outlined by Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that membership is open to any “European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”
William Burns, a former U.S. deputy secretary of state during President Obama’s administration, told CNN that adding a South American country is unlikely but “theoretically possible.”
“I understand the logic of a major non-NATO ally relationship with Brazil, but I would assume that a lot of our traditional and current NATO partners have a view about that sort of expansion,” he said.
Wajahat Ali, a New York Times contributing op-ed writer, questioned Trump’s understanding of NATO.
“I’m still stuck on Trump saying he wants to bring Brazil into NATO, which makes me realize he doesn’t understand what NATO means or is,” he wrote on Twitter. “I mean am I exaggerating here or not? Trump didn’t have a slip of tongue. He first said he wants Brazil to be a non-Nato ally then said he’s open to bringing into Nato and he will talk to some people. I don’t think he gets it… at all, which is pretty remarkable.”
Bolsonaro, a far-right veteran politician who’s been described as “Trump of the Tropics,” repeatedly praised the American president during his first official visit to Washington and even said he expects Trump to win re-election in 2020.
During an appearance in the Oval Office moments before the news conference, Trump thanked Bolsonaro for the support and said the U.S. would make Brazil, the eighth largest economy in the world, a closer partner.
“We’re going to look at that very, very strongly… whether it’s NATO or it’s something having to do with alliance, but we have a great alliance with Brazil, better that we ever had before,” Trump told reporters.
The two conservative leaders also discussed the possibility of Brazil hosting a new U.S. military base and made numerous bilateral commitments, including deepening their partnership in the United States-Brazil Security Forum to combat terrorism, drug and arms trafficking, cybercrime and other challenges. Bolsonaro also announced Brazil’s intent to exempt the U.S. from tourist visa requirements.
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