Carsten Koall/Getty Images(BERLIN) — It’s a role for which he didn’t volunteer. But like it or not, President Barack Obama has become an unofficial ambassador of sorts for President-Elect Donald Trump.
Over the course of his final foreign trip as president, Obama has had the task of reassuring a worried Europe about one thing: NATO isn’t going anywhere.
Throughout the week, Obama has spoken at nearly every opportunity about the United States’ “unwavering” commitment to the alliance as one that transcends politics.
“NATO, the world’s greatest alliance, is as strong and as ready as it’s ever been,” Obama said in an address to the Greek people Wednesday. “And I am confident that just as America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance has endured for seven decades — whether it’s been under a Democratic or Republican administration — that commitment will continue, including our pledge and our treaty obligation to defend every ally.”
It’s a point he’s made like a broken record, first in Greece and now in Germany, where he remains until heading to the APEC Summit in Peru this weekend.
And he’s making sure everyone in Europe hears that the president-elect specifically offered him assurances that the strength of the U.S.’s commitment will remain unchanged under a Trump administration, though it’s unclear what assurances Trump did, in fact, offer the current commander-in-chief in their Oval Office meeting following the election last week, if any.
“I am encouraged by the president-elect’s insistence that NATO is a commitment that does not change, and his full commitment to NATO as the foundation for international security, I think is very important,” the president said during a joint press conference today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
During the campaign, Trump criticized NATO as “obsolete” and suggested a Trump administration wouldn’t automatically rush to the defense of a NATO member from a hypothetical Russian attack if that member hadn’t lived up to its financial obligations under the alliance.
But in the final weeks before election, Trump struck a very different note on NATO — expressing commitment to the alliance and even arguing that it would be bolstered on his watch.
“When I am president, we will strengthen NATO,” Trump said during a speech in late September.
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