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Wed Jan 30, 2019, 09:08 PM

When it comes to NATO, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump offer similar assessments

Have Bernie's views on NATO evolved at all, because on feelthebern.org, Bernie is still listed as being very critical of NATO and its mission and Bernie's statements about NATO being a waste of money have not been removed. We criticize Trump for his repeated attacks on NATO and his extortionate demands saying that if NATO members don't pay their fair share, the U.S. might not honor its obligations, particularly in the event aggression by Russia, but it seems like Bernie still questions the need for NATO.

Or, perhaps feeltherbern.org just needs a major update if the views listed therein no longer represent Bernie's views.


Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are both outsiders of sorts in this campaign, and though they rarely agree on issues, there appears to be common ground over NATO.

Sanders dismissed NATO decades ago as a "waste" of money for the U.S., which funds a disproportionate share of the alliance among its 28 member nations.

"The countries of Europe should pick up more of the burden for their defense," Sanders said when asked during Thursday's debate about his past statements.

* * *
Sanders' views on NATO are somewhat similar to those recently voiced by Trump, who says NATO is unfair economically to the U.S. "NATO is obsolete," Trump said last month on ABC's "This Week." "And there's nothing wrong with saying it's obsolete. But it is obsolete."


Bernie opposes the expansion of NATO because it could lead to further aggression from Russia, which is territorially sensitive about the military alliance’s expansion eastward. Bernie also believes the U.S. foots too much of NATO’s bill.

Who are the current members of NATO?
NATO member countries include the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Croatia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Albania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Greece.

Which countries are interested in joining?
Bosnia, Georgia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Ukraine have all indicated an interest in joining NATO. Ukraine’s potential membership has become a hot-button issue in the past year as its conflict with Russia has raged on.

What is Bernie’s opinion on NATO expansion?
He’s against it, claiming it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and not geo-politically sound. In 1997, as a congressman, Bernie said:

“After four decades of the cold war and trillions of United States taxpayer dollars allocated to compete in the arms race, many of our constituents understand that it is not the time to continue wasting tens of billions of dollars helping to defend Europe, let alone assuming more than our share of any costs associated with expanding NATO eastward.”

Why would Bernie want to prevent countries from joining?
Bernie sees the eastward expansion of NATO as an unnecessary provocation of Russia — and, as stated in the quote above, he’s not interested in revisiting the Cold War era when Russia and the U.S. were constantly pitted against each other.

Even “pro-western” politicians in Russia have been hesitant to support NATO’s expansion to include Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, the Baltic states that were part of the former Soviet Union. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal envoy even suggested that Finland’s membership in NATO would start “World War III,” while Putin himself referred to Ukraine’s potential membership as a “direct threat” to Russian national security.

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