By Larisa Brown
Daily Mail – 10 November 2016
Military chiefs last night warned of the risk of war with Russia if Donald Trump abandoned Nato. The US president-elect has cast doubt on the coalition's mutual defence pact and has told members to raise military spending.
Three former British generals and an admiral said Britain and Europe should heed the warning or risk an unstoppable Russian invasion. Sir Michael Graydon, the former head of the RAF, said a Nato without the US would not be strong enough to defend Eastern Europe.
“From a security point of view this may be the wake-up call Europe needs,”
“We can expect Trump to be quite serious on this one, he will not forget it. If European nations do not raise their game then there are real concerns over the future of Nato. If the US leaves Nato it would be absolutely disastrous and just what Vladimir Putin would like. If a situation occurs in the Baltic where we need to take a firm stance, the credibility of this would be lacking without the US.”
General Richard Shirreff, Nato's deputy supreme allied commander for Europe until 2014, said:
“We have to hope the rhetoric we heard during the campaign is rapidly replaced by a very sober and serious statement that if there is any question of a Nato member being attacked then Trump will without any hesitation or equivocation come to the defence of the country. Anything less would be really bad news for Nato.”
In his book, 2017: War with Russia, Sir Richard describes an apocalyptic vision of Russia invading the Baltic states and Moscow threatening to go nuclear.
General Lord Dannatt, former head of the Army, said:
“We've seen Donald Trump threaten all sorts of things, we should take that threat seriously.
“From a UK point of view we have to think about increasing our own defence expenditure. We should actually realise that Trump means it and states have to do more about their own role in Nato. If the US walks away, Nato ceases to exist, almost by definition, so we would have to invent something else. In the context of Brexit that is ridiculous.”
Mr Trump alarmed the Western world earlier this year when he said the US might not come to the aid of Nato allies if they were attacked. The Republican accused them of failing to pull their weight, with the US accounting for 72 per cent of the alliance's expenditure. Paving the way for an ultra-isolationist foreign policy, he said he wanted to put 'America first' when it came to its military and economic interests.
Lord Bramall, a former head of the Army and a D-Day hero, and Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, called for higher defence spending.
“I don't expect any immediate change but perhaps European countries should spend more on defence,”
said Lord Bramall.
Lord West, a former security minister, added:
“It will be incumbent on all of Europe to spend more. We will have to spend more on defence to show we are stepping up the plate.”
Julian Lewis, who chairs the Commons defence select committee, said Mr Trump's presidency could leave Europe in a 'catastrophically weakened position'.
“If he means to carry out his threat and turn his back on Nato that would be potentially catastrophic for security and the West. It does not bear thinking about. Nato has been the cornerstone of Western security since 1949. Its central purpose is set out in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says an armed attack against one Nato member 'shall be considered an attack against them all”.
Dr Lewis added:
“Once you undermine the Article 5 commitment then effectively you are going back to the terrible days of the 1930s when aggressors could gamble on picking off one country after another.
“From 1949, Russia has always known that any aggression against a Nato member would mean war with the US, that is a deterrent that must remain.
“If Trump turns his back we would be in a catastrophically weakened position.”
Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg congratulated Mr Trump, saying:
“I look forward to working with you to strengthen Nato, keeping Europe and America safe.
“A strong Nato is important for Europe, but it's also important for the United States: 'We have to remember that the only time that we have invoked Article 5, our collective defence clause, is after an attack on the United States; after 9/11.”
Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded forces in Afghanistan, said the world would be fearful of Mr Trump. He said:
“He's a strong figure who is required to deal with the current situation. He will confront Putin, he won't kowtow to Putin. People will be afraid of him. He has said he requires Nato countries to pull their weight if they want US support and he's right to say that because Nato countries are not pulling their weight.”
Lord Dannatt said he thought Mr Trump's attitude toward Mr Putin could be a good thing.
“One of the reasons why the world is a mess is because there is a vacuum of leadership from the US,”
“There is only one world superpower and that is the US. If he wants a relationship with Putin that has to be a good thing.”