Bolton: U.S. Taxpayers Should Not Be Subsidizing Defense Of European Welfare States

ABC's Jon Karl questions national security advisor John Bolton about the president's meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin and the 12 Russian hackers indicted Friday for allegedly interfering in the 2016 election: <BLOCKQUOTE>JONATHAN KARL: OK. Let me ask you about what the president -- the president’s characterization of the relationship with Russia. He said that Russia -- that Putin is not an enemy, he is a competitor and he’s somebody that he hopes will be a friend. All of that may be true, but isn’t it also true that -- that Putin -- today’s Russia is an adversary of the United States? BOLTON: Yes, there are certainly adversarial aspects of it. There’s no question about it. But you know, the phrase peer competitor has often been used to characterize U.S. relations with China, with Russia, with others. So I thought the president was -- was on the mark there. KARL: The president at his meeting with NATO said that the U.S. could go it alone or do our own thing if NATO allies don’t put more into the collective defense. Is it -- would the president really consider withdrawing from NATO, withdrawing support from NATO if our allies don’t put in more? BOLTON: Look, that -- that -- that’s not exactly what he said. I was there at every conversation he had in Brussels on the subject, and I heard him at length and I heard the allies respond to him. He made a very important point. NATO is a collective defense organization. To be strong together, all 29 allies have to pull their fair share of the burden. They acknowledge that. They also acknowledge that they have not done so. And they acknowledge what I think is the most important point of all here, that President Trump, unlike any of his predecessors, has finally made this burden sharing issue something of an -- of importance. And the impromptu meeting that we had in Brussels last Thursday, the prime minister of one of the European countries said expressly, referring to President Obama, you know, he would come here and he’d say oh yes, we need your defense expenditures to equal two percent of GDP by 2024, ho hum and then he’d move on. I mean that was a recognition which I heard from other European leaders as well, that they knew President Obama was just going through the motions. So of course, hearing the president of the United States just going through the motions, that’s how they responded. They’ve heard from President Trump he doesn’t want them to go through motions, he wants to live up to the commitment that they made. And I think viewers need to understand is every NATO ally agreed that Cardiff, Wales in 2014 to hit the two percent target by 2024. Nobody has ever said that they didn’t reach it, they weren’t coerced by the United States to do that. They agreed to it of their own free will, and they should live up to it. The United States and our tax payers should not be subsidizing European welfare states who are not willing to spend on their own defense. I think the president’s right on the policy here. </blockquote>