U.S. Officials Scrambled Behind the Scenes to Shield NATO Deal From Trump

John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, pushed NATO ambassadors to finish a critical policy document before the alliance’s summit meeting last month so the president could not reject it.


Comments: 200

  1. Well it looks like Prez Trump has done what no president has done (in regards) to NATO in over 30 yrs!!
    The threat of Trumps unpredictability has cause NATO to play ball, Kudos to J Bolton and K.B Hutchinson for using that as leverage,
    In no way am I saying Trump thought this out as a 10 moves ahead of E.U chess game but he has been remarkably consistent in shouting at the rooftops of the unfairness of international agreements (albeit with the sophistication of a Toddler), he has identified and magnified our past prez’s agreements (both Rep and Dem) of having to give in at last minute because we had more to lose, Trump has projected a well known R.E strategy which is the power to say No and prepare to walk to get the best deal possible

  2. Wow! Like our president, a new twist on reality.

  3. RE in this case means Remedial Emotionality?

  4. @Ray L....which is still a theory or expectation. Till now no new and better “deals” materialized under Trump. Not a single one, actually.

  5. Like the economic crisis from which Obama pulled the country back from real collapse, who will be the best next president to fix our country internally, restore its image and policies around the world, keep us safe from cyber-war attacks and slow down our climate crisis? I fear that the wreckage of the Trump era will be worse than the Great Recession.

    The Republican Party has been utterly corrupted, sending the few who recognize the disaster which is this political party, to the legitimate news media.

  6. Let's just hope that the majority of voting Americans remember who ran our country into the ditch.

    Oh, that's right! The majority of voting Americans did remember last time and we got done over by the electoral college-and HC's abysmal campaign.

    Also, look in the mirror. If you didn't vote for HC (the way lesser of two bad choices), then you were part of the problem.

    We are a long way from being out of the woods, my friends. Actively support candidates who will work for working Americans. Donate time and money and make sure you and your like-minded family and friends vote.

  7. @Emergence

    "I fear that the wreckage of the Trump era will be worse than the Great Recession."

    Given the fact that we are in a trade war with the same countries who buy a lot of our sovereign debt, you are very right to be afraid.

  8. @Emergence

    It will take decades to undo the wreckage created by not only this treasonous president and his sycophants, his empowering, self-pitying base and a cowardly and utterly loathsome GOP. If there is anything at all to take from this, it is that it is time to have another look at our democracy and bring it into better stead. The founding fathers got us this far but at a certain point, even tradition has to bend and adapt. We change it, or it changes us, and we have a choice to be humane and
    intelligent about it, or stupid and arrogant. Time to decide.

  9. If we have to depend on John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, with their previous stances regarding international affairs, to act as steadying influences to preserve the U.S. relationship to NATO, then American citizens need to consider what that says about President Trump's instincts in such matters and his competence to assure our national security. The sad fact is that Trump's performance at the G7 and in Helsinki did not advance American national interests nor our relations with our real friends and allies in the world, and no amount of spinning by the White House p.r. machine or friendly news outlets can change that.

  10. @GCohen and the US citizen also needs to understand that going behind the presidents back and creating treaties and alliances with other nations is against the law, according to the law. So understand it does not matter the reasons for what they did, what they did was break the law.

  11. @GCohen - Seriously? How can anyone in the US that still has a brain have any expectations that Trump would " advance American national interests or our relations with our real friends and allies in the world". It was never possible and and to say things like it was a possibility means you just never looked into Trump's background as a child, as a son, as a student, as an investor, as an entrepreneur, or as a human.

  12. Apparently, the NATO deal isn't the only example of people around Trump juggling madly to prevent him from doing stupid things.

  13. Wow. Great reporting. It's nice to have some evidence that there are "adults in the room" who are keeping this petulant moron from smashing the international order just because he can.

  14. It is truly unsettling when John Bolton is the adult in the administration.

  15. @David

    NATO is the tool/hammer/fig leaf of US aggression. without NATO we probably end up in Hague for the war crimes we committed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

    War crimes are for non western nations.

  16. My gawd...this is SAD! So very SAD!
    To be that worried that your boss will just blow things up so you have to do something "hush, hush", is...[insert adjective here: ].

  17. OMG-how far has our country fallen? Top advisories have to work around the president to do the right thing. Shameful & scary. The mid-term election can put some breaks on this embarrassing president’s momentum. Speak up with your VOTE.

  18. The question is: Why do we have a child subject to sudden fits of anger and stupid tweets in the White House in the first place? Now, Donald, it's time to go to your room now while mommy and daddy make dinner plans. Would you like KFC, sweetie? Now, now, don't kick and scream, son. Act your age.

  19. And when Bolton has the US invading Iran, will that too be to save NATO?

  20. Deranged Don cannot be trusted by his own inner circle. Sad!

  21. Reading stuff like this article makes me wonder what else has been going on behind the scenes to mitigate the erratic, petulant and incompetent behavior of our wonderful president. At some point this makeshift babysitting is going to fail, Trump is going to go off the rails, and the consequences could be serious. How did we end up in this situation?

  22. More adult day care down at the White House. Let's keep the important decisions away from the Toddler-In-Chief.

    NATO is quite literally the greatest real estate deal in geopolitical history. We (over-)pay a few billion dollars and our eastern military frontier is in Estonia. As opposed to the multi-trillion $ cost of invading and occupying all the countries between Eastport Maine and there.

    Yet our Very Stable Genius (and supposed real estate expert) cannot see that.

    #facepalm

  23. Brilliant!!!

  24. I hadn't been a fan of Bolton. But I guess we need him now to childproof the country.

  25. I suppose it's not the first time wiser heads have had to save a President from himself, but this seems routine now, which is a damning indictment of our leadership selection, and by implication, the state of the American Experiment. It is gradually succumbing to the maw of excessive predatory-capitalist greed and nativist hostility and paranoia. We have met the enemy...

  26. The leader of the USA is such a pompous, bombastic, immature, inexperienced, self-absorbed, rude and thickheaded oaf that the entire declaration was in jeopardy of failing once he arrived. It could only be successful if DJT wasn't a part of it. We deserve better.

  27. @Sandy Right. But we deserve what we got. I can't get more culpable than that.

  28. Geesh, won’t anybody tell the emperor he has no clothes.

  29. What an utter disgrace. We'd be better off with no president.

  30. @Ignatz Farquad
    Since he is either off golfing, watching FOX or holding rallies so he can get his adulation fix aren't we essentially functioning without a president?

  31. Heavens! We know we are in a bad state when John Bolton is considered as the voice of reason in the room.

  32. Really, Republicans? Is this guy really worth it? Yikes.

  33. You mean campaign donors...

  34. " shield NATO deal from Trump ". What's wrong with this picture ? Is HE so incompetent that he must be protected from Himself ? THIS is the primary reason HE must go. We do NOT have a functioning executive branch, and a barely gasping Congress. VOTE in November. VOTE a straight Democratic ticket. VOTE to save our Country, while we still can.
    Seriously.

  35. @Phyliss Dalmatian
    Quite the contrary. The Executive Branch is hyperfunctioning, almost beyond control.

    What the nation really needs is a functioning Congress to keep it in check, as the Constitution provides.

    Where is the courage?

  36. @Phyliss Dalmatian Even some Republicans are calling for people to do just that only for the House though.

  37. @Phyliss DalmatianReally???? North Korea moving ahead, although slowly, to eliminate Nukes from their country, economy booming, Unemployment at record lows for Blacks, Hispanics and others. Not to mention a major effort to hold back the masses who would enter the country illegally and cause nothing but economic chaos for decades to come.... Surely your wish for me to vote for Socialism like that which is destroying Venezuela is nothing more than a joke.

  38. I thought that I had reached my lowest point when I felt grateful to DNI Dan Coates for his stance on The "Helsinki Summit". Until he stood up to President Trump about betraying the United States to Vladimir Putin, I had regarded Mr. Coates as an extremely conservative man willing to be a useful pawn to Mr. Trump. If I find I now have to be grateful to John Bolton, the low to which I have sunk will be a depth previously unimaginable to me. I hope we will not find that it was he, alone, who saved the US from ditching NATO. Seeing him as a hero is unbearable.

  39. Okay everyone -- are we sure this is the sort of president we want? How much embarrassment must we endure? How great a loss in repair work must we undergo? At what point do Republicans face their responsibility for this incredibly ridiculous national affront?

    You put this unfit person into office, against your better judgement. You can now please remove him, using your better judgement. (And please take that equally ridiculous evangelical with him. Give us Ryan while you can, if you must.)

  40. So now it looks like we have a ventriloquist dummy for president.

  41. As much as I don't like trump, he is the president. If his supporters want him to mess with NATO and be allies with Russia instead of Germany, then that's what they should get. These so-called advisers are doing us no favors by shielding us all from the consequences of this election. For us to have a chance at getting rid of him, there must be some good reason. Otherwise he's going to run on a good economy and peace in our time and get reelected in 2020 with some mini-trump elected in 2024.

  42. @Neildsmith, why do you conclude the economy will be good in 2020 and we will be at peace at the time as well? What causes to you to reach that conclusion? Things were quite peaceful on 9/10/01 as I recall too. And the economy was doing well in 2006 in to 2007 but by Sept. 2008 not so much.

  43. @Neildsmith

    Someday history books may tell us that these 'so-called advisors' shielded us from 'all the consequences of this election' by preventing Trump declaring nuclear war or abandoning our NATO allies to face Russian invasion of Europe without us. Wouldn't you love to know what Paul Ryan meant when he said he'd worked to have influence with Trump to prevent 'this tragedy, this tragedy, this tragedy' - the obvious implication of 'tragedy' something tragic and stupid Trump wanted to do that possibly Congress was able to forestall? I hope I'm alive in 10 yrs to read the history books about the folly and possible tragedy caused by unstable, ignorant destructive Donald Trump and how our country survived him. The advisors working behind Trump's back to prevent tragedy and the destruction of our country are heroes. Even John Bolton!

  44. During the final decade of the Cold War I worked at our embassy in Bonn as President Reagan met several times with Soviet leader Gorbachev. The prep work that went before these summits was incredible but it helped the president and Gorbachev conduct better, more substantive talks that led to agreements. Reagan was willing to delegate authority to those who knew NATO and the Warsaw Pact and he was a master communicator, having started his career in radio. He had an excellent team with a strong Secretary of State in George Schultz. Our current president isn't so fortunate. He lacks a sense of national security that is not tied to his ego and he lacks the talent that Reagan had in addressing key statesmen as well as public audiences on matters of critical substance. We should be thankful that Bolton has the sense to get things done prior to any summit with our president. I have to wonder, however, what happened at Helsinki. Bolton and Kelly were apparently out of the loop and the summit turned into a public disaster for our president and our government.

  45. @bkbyers, the current president also deems it unnecessary to prepare for his 'summits'.

  46. Why is this dude still President ? Because the Republicans have put party and their "donors" before the Constitution and the country. They should all be removed from office and exiled to the steppes of Siberia they love Russia so much....

  47. Republicans just want an unthinking, warm body with a functional signature hand, so this is a perfectly acceptable situation. Backroom maneuvering is their style anyway.

  48. When you step back, it’s surreal that we essentially have a leaderless government doing its best to function while their supposed leader, the toddler-in-chief, is off holding rallies — spewing tired nonsense and stoking his ego in front of unquestioning worshipers. While he becomes more unhinged, those in government are increasingly ignoring him and moving on; they are running on two disjointed tracks.

  49. @C Malek This sounds a lot like the plot of a political thriller. Unfortunately it is everyday news now

  50. @C Malek
    Don't misunderestimate Trump.
    It is not that he doesn't know what he is doing. It's just that what he is doing has nothing to do with promoting the interests of the USA.
    Everything is about Trump and he is manipulating the media to get what he wants.
    If the USA gets in the way, he'll throw us all under the bus, but that doesn't mean that there is no methods to his madness.
    Democrats keep comparing him to what a normal president would do and declaring him stupid. You don't get to be President by being stupid (though like Madonna pretending to be a ditzy blonde, pretending to be stupid may help you with the Republican base.).
    Trump is an expert at manipulating the media and manipulating his white supremacist base. Causing Constitutional crises takes a lot more than being stupid.
    Trump wants to use the presidency to grow his wealth and power. So far it's working.

  51. Every Republican elected official, appointee, bureaucrat and apparatchik knows that Trump is incompetent and unfit for office, but they will cover up and obfuscate for him rather than risk losing power.

    There's only one solution: vote against every Republican candidate every chance you get until the party returns to some form of normalcy. Whether you are Democrat or Republican, we need (at least) two functional parties offering competing ideas and policies and who will hold their own members accountable when necessary.

  52. @Pat You speak the bare-knuckled truth. Thank you.

  53. @Pat

    The Vietnam strategy, "we have to destroy the party in order to save it."

  54. @Pat
    Thank you for including the "at least." Too many people equate Progressive with Democrat. I'm among those who do not.

  55. You know it's bad when John Bolton is saving the day.

  56. Haha. Truth.

  57. So Bolton and Pompeo are at the heart of the Deep State. Who knew?

  58. As a person who loves American History, this is unprecedented: Backstabbing a US President to save an alliance that has stood the test of time. So this is how Trump's cabinet keep up with the Donald's pre-school tantrums!

  59. As reported, this episode is beyond surreal.

  60. @Duke
    I wasn't sure if I was reading an article in The Onion or the NYT.

  61. Knowing of Mr. Bolton and his 'all-guns-blazing' approach to Foreign Policy, it's more than amazing to find that he was actually involved in the attempt to preserve the NATO alliance, after this president has done everything in his power to discredit it -- as well as the U.S. Intelligence Department.
    And while I'm not quick to forget all the damage this administration has done by underminig and attacking this country's neighbors and allies, while supposedly in our best interest -- I must acknowledge and thank those who see that America will never be great again without the help and support of others who cherish Freedom and Democracy as much as we do.
    United we stand. Divided we fall.

  62. The entire world knows that Trump is an untrustworthy, lying idiot.

  63. @mja
    Everyone it seems... except us.
    And they aren't even in the majority.

  64. @mja Very true. Except that Trump doesn't know it, which is the real danger. AND we have all these Boltons and Pompeos and Pences who are running the country behind his and OUR backs, while protecting his ego. Neither the baby in chief or the American people are enlightened, and after-the-fact knowledge is doing no one any good.

  65. @mja,

    But when will his supporters figure that out?

  66. What a sad state of affairs. The man - little boy actually - should not be in office. He was never qualified and never will be. How long will this go on? Based on my experience, if you took away Trumps money he would have very few friends, even among members of his own family. They know he is a bum yet they aren't ready to get off the payroll.

  67. Stealth diplomacy? I’ll take it to defend our NATO interests. Interesting that Bolton had to preplan with our allies to keep Trump from stomping all over their agreement. Now he has upset his best friend, Vlad. Vlad so sad but NATO “foes” are glad!
    Use whatever stealth, you need government officials, to keep us and our allies secure from Trump’s pandering to Putin.

  68. Seems like it has become necessary to keep Trump in the dark in order to maintain our alliances. Scary.

  69. Well, I'm not one to side with Trump (ever), but there's an argument to be made here that his "antipathy" worked as a motivating force to fast-track essential agreements among allies. In other words, whether he understands it or (probably) not hardly matters. Unfortunately, this sort of episode can only serve to weaken future presidents and sets a precedent for empowering unelected players like Bolton.

  70. @Mford

    I don't buy the argument. It suggests that this was all part of a coherent, well-planned strategy. It wasn't. Trump's "antipathy" isn't based on a deep and well-researched analysis of the NATO alliance. His advisers know how important it is, but he doesn't. That does matter. He's the president, for goodness sake.

  71. Never thought I'd be grateful for John Bolton.

  72. John Bolton aka Yosemite Sam is now a voice of reason? Yeah baby! I'd ask what's next, but i don't think i want to know.

  73. @PH
    I'm waiting for the red button to be pushed. At first tactical nukes deployed against "time sensitive targets", and then escalate in to an all-out nuclear war. Maybe the US against Russia or China, or the US, Russia, China, Europe, India, North Korea, Israel, Australia, etc. dumping nukes against their opponents, as well as any clean land they can set up a new base upon.
    The US is busy converting W76s into tactical nukes and equipping them on submarines following Trump administration's decision. Enjoy it while it lasts.
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a22550758/us-submarine...

  74. It is becoming increasingly clear that, in addition to bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors, treason needs to be added to the list of Trump's impeachable offenses.

  75. For hesitating to defend foreign countries? The last time the US went to war on behalf of Europe we lost almost a half-million men. Which of your sons or daughters would you most like to see defending Montenegro or Estonia?

  76. His own lawyers do not trust him to tell the truth to Mueller and his own policy advisers do not trust his day-to-day mental stability. I fear for our country.

  77. @TR
    I think that his advisors fear is that he will, probably by accident, tell Mueller the truth.

  78. This is usually what happens in a functioning government. The bureaucrats and policy makers (even political appointees who actually have a brain) do their job. As it should be. The US is not a banana republic (yet) and the systems in place are big enough to be able to withstand nonsense by any president, incompetent or other wise. In that sense I remain confident that all of the nonsense we read in the media will pass - however, the media probably would be better to not let the cat out of the bag.

  79. The last time the US went to war on behalf of Europe we lost almost a half-million men. Which of your sons or daughters would you most like to see defending Montenegro or Estonia?

  80. This sick and dangerous man should be institutionalized. Why did Reagan close the mental hospitals?
    So Bolton is useful. Not as extreme as seems from cursory reading.

  81. The last time the US went to war we lost almost a half-million men. Which of your sons or daughters would you most like to see defending Montenegro or Estonia?

  82. i have no problem defending liberal democracies. i have major problems for our children dying for companies like Halliburton making millions in the middle east

  83. Bolton did the right thing? Fired in 3...2...1...

  84. Thanks. I was just pondering what to watch on Netflix this evening. "The Madness of King George" it is.

  85. Do we go to war with anyone over Montenegro? Is NATO necessary or was it appropriate to disband it after the fall of the Soviet Union? Is it appropriate to expand NATO up to the Russian borders? Is it appropriate to set up a massive military force in Europe? How does any of this help the United States and its limping economy and political system? Trump is not detail oriented and not much of a politician but much of what he has said makes sense. What infuriates me is that unelected neocons like John Bolton are making critical financial and treaty commitments for me and my country without a full hearing and analysis by the citizens and Congress. The Times may not like Trump. I was not happy either but many of Trumps points about NATO were spot on. Let me remind the reader that Eisenhower said that he expected NATO to be disbanded with the fall of communism. NATO is an incredible waste of time and effort. It is a guaranteed annual income for the military industrial complex. It looks like it will end when the Republic can't pay for it any more. After the 7 trillion dollar fiasco in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iran atomic Israeli fiasco can anyone take Bolton seriously? May the good Americans wake up sooner or later. Unlike Mr. Bolton who had better things to do, I am a veteran of three wars and have watched the military and NATO with boots on the ground. Articles like these are why I continue to subscribe to the Times....thank you.

  86. @AS NATO is more than just a military organization, but all we hear is the military issue. I was at an international meeting at a resort in mid-south Italy a number of years ago. The walls of the halls were lined with pictures of NATO sponsored events that had nothing to do with the military. This opened my eyes to the cultural aspect of NATO and how it fostered internationl cooperation and information conferences beyound the military. Therefore, I do not believe President Trump even knows of the other things NATO does. He only cares about the military aspect which has political advantage in his constrained world view.

  87. @AS, first of all, Eisenhower’s time greatly overestimated the influence of Communism. There are still evil influences in the world today but they don’t fit a neat label. Russia, under Putin, is still a threat. Call it what you like — Comminism, Fascism, but it is still a menace to the world at large. Russia wants to expand its territory and power and a divided Western world serves its purpose. Our wars haven’t been to defend NATO countries. Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan don’t count as NATO enemies. They were supposed to be against terrorism. Vietnam and Korea don’t really fit the definition either. They were battles against our great fear of Communism. I don’t like war either but there are just and unjust wars. Teddy Roosevelt had it right, talk softly but carry a big stick.

  88. @AS Russia attacked our election, including efforts to actually hack election rolls and voting counts. Russia hacked into our power grid. Russian agents travel the globe killing people (when told about that fact, our quisling in chief said "we have killers too--do you think our country is so innocent?").

    So yes, NATO does increase our security. Do you really think the US would spend less on security without it?

  89. How profoundly disturbing that our courtiers must hide their actions from our mad king.

  90. This has to be among the scariest news items I have read pertaining to the state of government in the U.S. Nonetheless, I pledge to remain steadfast in my resolve to support democracy and human rights despite the current chaos created to benefit the jackals on our political scene.

    45 and his whipped-up fan club make a mockery of democracy while unelected special interests and foreign powers create policy under which the rest of us live. I am not so naive as to think that this is new to this administration. Still, the naked cynicism of the corrupt political body laid bare, is sickening. I am 75 years old, have lived an earnest life, raised a family, worked for the strength of my fellow human beings and only regret the awful mess I am leaving behind for someone else to mop up.

  91. @Suri Friedman

    Most poignant comment on this story.

  92. If I'm reading between lines correctly, NATO's post trump planning for future Russia and Europe posturing.

  93. There are no real "adults' in the room in the trump administration. Anyone who signs on is compromised. The only answer is impeachment. trump needs to be removed. He is dangerous and a threat to the values and reputation of this country.

  94. Yes, we already all know the WH is a daycare center.
    Keep a close eye on the toddler, who knows what he will get into next.

  95. In Trump's lunacy world that should be insubordination. In the real world, however, that was a wise move for our country's, and our allies, benefit.

  96. John Bolton's dreamy, hawkish idealism has been jolted awake by a bucket of cold water. He now has to hold off a cuckoo commander-in-chief with one hand and hold steady a nearly 70-year-old trans-Atlantic alliance with the other.

    Is it now the policy of Trump's advisors to negotiate behind the scenes, hoping their boss will never find out? And only tell him just enough not to get into trouble or stir the pot?

    I believe that is known as "patronizing." It does seem to be a winning strategy with patients in dementia wards, though. Tell them what they want to hear and skip over the details...

  97. Gee, it's almost like they invoked the 25th Amendment on Trump.

  98. Well he has always said that he is his own best advisor. Apparently the real adult advisors think not! Doesn’t this beg the question, what do we need him for?

  99. Many years ago, during the rush of airport xmas travel, I saw a young mother crying after the agent told her there was only one seat for her and her 5 year old child. But she wasn’t crying because THEY couldn’t make their destination, she was sobbing and and saying “but I can’t leave my child here by herself!”. Obviously, the trauma of the situation completely obfuscated her logic.

    This is the logic being used by many in the Trump administration facing the trauma of his presidency. They chose to enable Trump in many other ways, to be able to stay in the administration and constantly “save us” from his actions.

    Never once does it occur to them that the most logical way to save us is to not enable him in the first place, call him out publicly on every incoherent action that he takes, and demand that other parts of government remove this individual unfit to run a country.

  100. In what sense is Trump's antipathy "unpredictable"? Putin's antipathy is pellucidly predictable; Trump is doing his bidding.

  101. A raving imbecile, and likely money-laundering criminal in the White House. An American government mobilizing against its own President to save us from his 4-year-old ignorant understanding of the world and his subservience to Vladimir Putin.

    Why in the name of God aren’t Republicans demanding immediate impeachment hearings against this fool and traitor?

  102. @raven55 Because the Republicans are also fools and traitors. Look at all the donations they took from Russia via the NRA.

  103. Great job, Times. With any luck, this reporting will cause staffers to turn on each other and undermine Trump's trust in Bolton, reducing his influence when it comes to pushing for war with Iran.

  104. Lol.

    It’s just sad.

  105. Donald thought Paul Manafort treated him like a baby during the campaign and reportedly was utterly livid about it, confronting him. The next day, he dispatched son of a felon Jared to let Manafort know that the press release was going out in 30 seconds announcing Manafort’s resignation.

    I guess Bolton’s days are numbered.

  106. This is what you have to do if your President neither reads nor thinks before he speaks. Mr. Trump,you should stick to cheating at golf and stay away from the White House. The world would be a better place.

  107. If Trump’s advisers don’t trust him, why should we?

    We’re in serious trouble.

  108. Mr Trump is simply dangerous & must be impeached, opposed, resisted, all of the above

  109. Remember when we actually wanted a president to know what was going on? Now the national security team is one step away from forging Trump’s signature and the whole world is glad of it. Including Trump, who would rather be watching TV and videos of his campaign events in his non golf moments.

  110. @Yeah Those who are praising Bolton for his actions forget just who put him in his role--Trump himself. With only an iota of exception here and there, the swamp creatures Trump has surrounded himself with are just as avaricious and incompetent as he is. Perhaps, for the moment, NATO has been preserved. But it has not been preserved by someone for whom I have even an inkling of trust and respect. There is nothing to celebrate here. There is only the fact of the horrific danger facing this country in greater and greater breadth and depth with each passing day.

  111. The president of the United States is the greatest threat to the national security of the country and the peace and security our European allies.

    I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true.

  112. It's becoming more and more apparent that the only way this administration will be able to get anything productive done is if Trump is distracted while his advisors make the actual decisions and do the heavy lifting. As long as Trump still has the use of his tweeting thumbs this arrangement should work, until one day while sitting in the Oval Office his chair can be carried out with him in it tweeting away, oblivious to the changing scenery.

  113. Unpredictable antipathy or is it insanity?

    Either one, it is doing a disservice to the country and our allies with his imbecilic antics designed to show everyone who is in charge-or thinks he is in charge.

  114. Everything Trump does wrong is his doing. Everything he does right is someone else's. The buck stops with the President.

    It is a rerun of the Ronald Reagan and George W. narrative. They were both stupid stooges surrounded by brilliant advisors, who leaked every bit of their brilliance to the press.

    Just as the attack on science and the environment is neither Scott Pruitt nor Andrew Wheeler's doing, but Trump's so his signing of the NATO deal is also Trump's.

  115. Bolton did that?

    Even the crazy people think Trump is too crazy.

  116. Thanks to General Mattis, Pompeo, Hutchinson, Bolton for working to preserve this alliance. This made me feel a bit more secure that the national security staff is working carefully to do the right thing by our country and our historic allies.

    It also made me feel much less secure that the national security staff understands that it has to work behind the president's back to prevent Trump from stupidly undermining or destroying our most successful international alliance in some impulsive ignorant act.

    Never thought I'd see the day I'd feel grateful to John Bolton!

    Things are a bit better, and much worse, than we thought they were.

  117. What a disturbing story this is. It is unthinkable that government officials have to resort to this kind of subterfuge to protect us from this dangerous and deranged man. Although I don't think much of pompeo or bolton, in this case they acted in our country's best interest and put country over party. Astonishing that most GOP members in the House and Senate refuse to do the same.

  118. Oh well, bye bye Bolton. If Trump didn't know about this before, well, chances are Bolton will be gone soon.

  119. Thank God for them...trump is the great wizard of OZ.

  120. Are we all on meds because of trump??

  121. I’m just having more wine.

  122. I hope they hide the football too.

  123. Without getting into a debate over the relevance or necessity of NATO, I just want to say that this story gives the "Deep State" people evidence of their claims. Just saying.

  124. @Louis Anthes
    I don't really use the phrase, but I define the Deep State as the global billionaires and their global corporations that dictate U.S. Policy from behind the scenes through large dark money "donations." It also includes the political appointees of politicians controlled by these interests.
    As establishment neocon/neoliberals who push aggressive military policy to promote the interests of global corporations that profit from war and the chaos it causes. I would say Bolton and Pompeo fit this description.
    I would also say many Democrats, such as Madeline Albright, who once asked Colin Powell, "What's the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can't use it?" fit the definition also.

    I wouldn't call it a conspiracy. It would be more of a barrage of political pressure from numerous billionaires and their representatives, including the corporations they own, lobbyists, think tanks they fund, etc.
    I don' know how powerful the Deep State is, but I do know much "bipartisan" U.S. policy is not what most People want.

    As a global billionaire who breached about bribing all of the other presidential candidates in 2016, Trump would be a member of the Deep State, as are many in his cabinet, and many of his appointees.

    But Trump calls his opponents liars, and he calls his opponents the Deep State to confuse and distract.

    Trump wants us to think that the career FBI agents investigating him are the Deep State, because their job is to fight corruption.

  125. The Times is confirming that the President is a puppet of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. Terrible Trump like a terrible two-year old throws up tantrums but, on Russia and NATO, he is not in charge.
    Yet this is not a good thing for this complex has a preference for military spending and military pseudo-solutions. Trump is the King of chaos but the military-industrial complex is working overtime to ruin the US and accelerate decline and Chinese hegemony.

  126. "the efforts are a sign of the lengths to which the president’s top advisers will go to protect a key and longstanding international alliance from Mr. Trump’s unpredictable antipathy."

    Trump's antipathy to U.S. allies is not unpredictable. It is entirely predictable if you view Trump for what he is - Putin's agent.

  127. @Reasonable
    As Putin's agent he surely is doing a bad job for his principle by imposing severe sanctions on Russia a few days ago.
    But wait ! I just figured it out. The sanctions are part of Trump's conspiracy with Putin. In all likelihood Trump warned Putin about them in their private Helsinki meeting, Then, he secretly promised Putin so many concessions that they more than made up for the sanctions. Putin is really happy about the sanctions, Wink wink. Grin grin.Right ?

  128. @Reasonable

    I'm not sure that President Trump is Putin's agent. I would say that he is uninformed, opinionated (and not considering others' opinions), egotistical and idiotic.

    I never thought I'd thank Bolton and Pompeo. I see that I have some things to learn about the possibilities in desperate times like ours.

  129. Interesting way to have to do foreign policy. “You better do a deal with us, and quickly, or you’ll have to deal with the idiot.” It might even have worked on this occasion, but as a way to run foreign policy it will, probably sooner than later, end in disaster

  130. @John David James if it can hold until next november, we will be fine.

  131. @John David James

    “You better do a deal with us, and quickly, or you’ll have to deal with the idiot.” sums it up.

    And it has scared the freeloading 'partners' enough to finally take their own security seriously. Germany - 4 of 110 fighter jets airworthy, and nowhere close to their 2% commitment - is actually increasing defense spending.

    It is inevitable that US will pull back troops from Europe. We cant afford to defend them forever. Savings should go to social programs or to to pay off the debt. My children will not die to defend Montenegro.

  132. Thank God for Bolton's deep state!

  133. It would appear that Putin has beat the West once again. It is highly unlikely that Putin would invade any NATO country. However the paranoia in the CIA and the State Department is so high that the 'chicken little' syndrome has permeated all of those sacred walls and halls.

    While the NATO nations are being pushed by the US to up their spending to the 2% amount agreed to 20 years ago, Putin sits back and sips a lemonade and chuckles.

    Putin is not the idiot that Bolton suggests; the truth is just the opposite. Financially struggling NATO countries now have to redirect funds from foods to guns.

    Meanwhile, Putin redirects resources to the subtle forms of warfare. Sanction vs sanction.

  134. Oh goody, so now our sons and daughters can die for Montenegro or Estonia. I guess since Bolton knows he’s already going to Hell for Iraq, why not get a ticket to the Express Lane?

    Memo to my dear fellow Never-Trumpers: we cannot condemn 45’s obscene Pentagon budget and then applaud Bolton for this.

  135. @Charles maybe you have a point, but I would ask you how many nato soldiers died for a war you started ? (I'm referring to afghanistan in case you're wondering).

  136. @Charles
    Estonian sons and daughters died for us in Afghanistan. Nine, specifically, with 92 injured in Afghanistan. Relative to their population, that would be the equivalent of US losses of 2,250 dead and over 23,000 wounded.

  137. Remember when we learned that Reagan had Alzheimer when he was still in office.........Someone needs to test 45, maybe not for Alzheimer but for something!

  138. I can't be the first to point this out but, if Bolton is the voice of reason we are in serious trouble.

  139. So who exactly is the deep state that Trump rails against, when his own senior national security advisors work essentially behind his back and without his knowledge/direction to create NATO policy that substantively contradicts his stated positions?

  140. Trump is a danger to the United States and its allies. So is Bolten. It really says something about how irresponsible Trump is when even an unreasonable war hawk like Bolten can be the sane and conscientious force within the administration that is protecting the world from Trump's irrational impulsiveness.

  141. Thank God for the Shallow State.

  142. Wow, so, unelected people selected by the president are acting on their own behalf to protect the nation's interests from the president. How do you parse this?

    1. Uppity underlings who maybe should be fired for undercutting the authority of the president?
    2. Our nation is under assault by its leader and we should follow these guy's example and do whatever we can to save ourselves?
    3. Act to promote our personal agendas the ways these guys did, no matter what the president thinks (because he's so involved in making profits as president that he won't notice diplomacy in action)?

    I mean this is dysfunction in its highest form (even if it saved NATO), and yet we pretend that, because of our constitution, we shouldn't call this whole administration a bunch of free-agents working on their own, and undercutting our leader's actual desires? Should these guys get fired for their actions? Or maybe it's better to cut off the head of this mess than to keep having the actual (not the tweeted) direction of our country be determined by this rogue's gallery of scallywags.

    They should all apologize (even for saving NATO in this way) and resign and take DJT back to his pink marble home on 56th street as soon as possible.

  143. @rick
    Please, whenever he goes, send him to Florida. As a NY expat, I can't bear the thought of him returning to NYC. Has he even been there once since Melania moved? Certainly New Yorkers don't want him back.

  144. @rick Negotiating positions and policy details are always done by "unelected people selected by the president." No head of state has time to spend weeks or months completing an agreement like this. Summits are meant for photo ops and signing ceremonies. Normally, though, they're working within parameters established by the president. But, Trump has no patience for details.

    When a president, especially this one, tries to negotiate something on his own we get Singapore.

  145. So much for the quiet part. Either Trump now does something big and stupid to prove that he's the boss, or he tweets something along the lines of: "Failing NY Times FAKE NEWS story claims my national security staff and NATO worked around me. The were following MY orders, and got historic agreements, unlike Obama and others! Why isn't Jeff Sessions investigating Crooked Hillary and Rosie O'Donnell? WITCH HUNT! Sad!

  146. @David, I'm also waiting for that shoe to drop. I'm seeing this story late -- I should go check Twitter!

  147. @David I recommend this post in spades. Media are in a bind, report the news that will spark the next story, or cover it up.

  148. David, except that you wrote complete sentences of some complexity: not at all what Trump would comprehend and write. Too many words.
    It is easily perceptible by ordinary observation that Trump's thoughts are simple minded drivel.
    And if they are positive at all it is to brag about his possessing a beautiful golf course, beautiful gold escalator, beautiful wife, beautiful tower.

  149. Our hero, John Bolton! By hiding a secret NATO agreement with Europe from the president, he saves the day!

  150. It should be pointed out that Mr. Bolton is not known for his pragmatism.

  151. So, they gave DJT a one-page overview indicating that all the marvelous ideas indicated by bullet-points were indeed his? Very, very wonderful!

  152. Trump selling out Montenegro by name on Fox was a travesty. He was messaging Putinn that his further interference could proceed without any fear of a united NATO pushback. Horrible!

  153. @Dee
    Like when Dean Acheson (inadvertently, apparently) in a speech left South Korea out of the list of nations the US would defend back in the 1940's, essentially inviting North Korea and China to invade, resulting in the Korean war.

  154. @Dee It was obvious to me too that 'Montenegro' was not a country he mentioned by chance. He probably can't find it on the map. Given what Putin is up to in the Balkans, this is more than worrying.

  155. This is all the more disturbing considering what came next in Helsinki.

  156. "Unpredictable antipathy" is not a good trait to have in a head of state. Thank goodness, a few people are trying to protect the world from Trump. It's about time Congress joined the ranks and did their job before all our alliances are stomped to death by the big orange one.

  157. John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, pushed NATO ambassadors to finish a critical policy document before a meeting last month so President Trump could not reject it.

    The efforts are a sign of the lengths to which the president’s top advisers will go to protect the alliance from his unpredictable antipathy.

    [ So essentially President Trump is no longer president, foreign policy being taken over by Bolton and Pompeo. Scary as can be. ]

  158. @Nancy "Scary as can be", Nancy? ..So you'd actually prefer Trump to be doing foreign and/or defence policy unfettered?!

    Maybe you're falling for this "deep state" scaremongering a little too deeply? I found myself breathing a sigh of relief that there remain enough career professionals in & around DC behind the likes of Bolton & Pompeo still to staff these kinds of 'steady-as-she-goes' diplomatic initiatives - let's not forget: this one was hardly avant gard..especially if you compare it with having had to unscramble an anarchic Trumpian alternative!

  159. When Bolton is the prudent one in foreign relations, you're in big trouble.

  160. My sentiments exactly!
    It shows just how low the bar is under Trump.

  161. The most dangerous administration since that terrible administration preceding Lincoln.

  162. @Nancy

    "What about" that administration that invaded another country because of alleged weapons of mass destruction?

    I dare say that the world we live in would be LOTS safer than it is.

  163. Worse and much more corrupt. Put Harding just before a major war, and we still aren’t close to this mess.

  164. So it sounds like Trump got what he wanted. The NATO nations agreed to beef up their military capabilities significantly by 2020. This seems a major improvement over what they were actually doing which was to very slowly increase their spending to 2% of GDP. Look at the results nit the process.

  165. @Al Galli
    I'm pretty sure that is the 2%.

  166. @Al Galli The process is important. How do you like it if someone treats you badly. Does it make you want to deal with them again?

  167. Actually, what the NATO nations actually agreed to was to continue towards their 2024 goal of military spending of 2% of GDP. Trump, not one for details, left the meeting thinking that they would do so more quickly, but as with all military spending, it is hard to ramp up quickly and there is unlikely to be any concerted move by any of the NATO allies to move more quickly than they already are.

  168. An interesting and understated fact I take from this article is the degree to which policy, both domestic and international, is drafted by non-elected officials. They hold a lot of sway in the nuances of how policy is drafted, implemented, and adhered to.

    It is helpful to remember the amount of valuable expertise and wherewithal we lose when career non-partisan federal employees are removed from their positions indiscriminately.

  169. Many thanks Arvin and quite correct. Career federal employees represent enormous and valuable corporate memory and practice.

    If the voters want a country that is managed for their current benefit and future prosperity, then these employees are the ones to make that happen.

  170. @Arvin

    This is also the result of this idea that electing inexperienced people rather than politicians is somehow better and smarter. That it will "drain the swamp" or limit the corruption. We have never seen any sign that is true. As we go down the competence scale, the money influence meter is going off the charts.

  171. Interesting that it took a month for us to learn this, the article didn't say what the source of this news was, but it highlights the importance of the media to help us understand exactly how far the President is willing to go to collude with Russia, and the lengths to which senior officials are going to check him.

    Its likely the same thing has happened with the latest sanctions on Russia over the spy poisoning in England. Perhaps a month or a year from now, we'll hear the back story about Trump's resistance to signing this latest sanctions order.

    Meanwhile, Trump occasionally talks about how he is "tough on Russia", while it is clear that his senior officials and Congress are "tough on Russia" while he is constantly resisting. He has to constantly remind the Boss Putin of this in their private discussions.

  172. @Look Ahead, the article clearly stated the sources: "five senior American and European officials familiar with the discussions who described them on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the White House."

  173. The fact that top administration officials have to work around Trump and behind his back to maintain international stability and to stave off his disastrous decisions shows how morally bankrupt Congress is. They know how dangerous and unstable he is and yet refuse to act either to impeach him or remove him under the 25th Amendment. VOTE in the mid-terms!

  174. @J.
    What is interesting about Congress is that they supposedly allow Trump to continue unrestrained by any steadying hand because they fear angering his base (and "base" it is in every sense of the word). However, through their inaction they may very well be bringing on the outcome that they fear by disgusting and alienating the Independent and moderate voter (not sure there is more than one) who they also need to win re-election. That is what happens when you try to control the outcome instead on focusing on the process.

  175. NATO is just as important today as it was when established. The purpose of the alliance is far greater than the military component. If anyone wants to go back to the isolationist policies of the post WW I era they would do well to read history.

    It is amazing to me that we have a leader who seems to embody the "know nothing party" of the late 19th century. It may make people feel good to rub salt in our allies wounds but it serves no purpose in the long term and it harkens images of the ugly American in the short term.

    It is very scary that we have Bolton, Pompeo and Mad Dog Mattis coming across as the mature people in the room.

  176. I generally agree, except for your disparagement of SecDef Mattis. He is not some crazed caricature of a military madman. His nickname came from an urgent, mission oriented style of command. The Marines are justly proud of their performance under his command in Iraq.

  177. @Kevin. Honestly I can't even figure out why it makes any people feel good to rub salt in our allies wounds. That completely stumps me.

  178. @Kevin ...says a resident of D.C.

    Exactly what is NATO defending OUR interests against, and why should we finance it with twice the contribution of those who actually live there and generate just as large of a collective GDP as our 50 States?

  179. I'm all for holding this president accountable, but this is one of those "don't need to know" stories that seem designed to make Trump look bad. So some federal employees did their jobs in adverse circumstances (the president's incompetence) and got some good results. They do the work and their boss gets the credit, deserved or undeserved. That's pretty much how it works in every administration and corporation.

  180. Trump is compromised by Russian blackmail.

    There is no other possible explanation.

  181. Can you spell RUSSIA? John Bolton has a long history as a hawk where Russia is concerned. He frequently criticized Obama for being too soft on Putin. I can only imagine how infuriated Bolton feels watching "his" president make foreign policy decisions, such as demanding Russia's entry into NATO, in order to curry favor with Putin.

    As long as Bolton has a job, I'm predicting he will do everything in his power to undermine Trump's personal agenda where Russia is concerned.

  182. So what your saying, what really happened, is that the Trump team used a classic good cop / bad cop negotiating tactic to force NATO into an agreement without any of the useless machinations that have occurred in the past. The USA got what it wanted. Brilliant work by this administration. At some point the world will realize that Trump is always negotiating and that everything he does is a gambit. He only cares about the end result - in this case the America first policy.

  183. And the Trump fans will say: See, that was some brilliant strategy to get things done.
    Is this now the new norm - the world hustles around a crazy president?

  184. So a deal is done with NATO, that would seem to be what was important. Too bad it had to be John Bolton who did it though.

  185. It is painful comfort to learn that the current President is not actually making policy or implementing his lunatic ramblings. But he still creates so much uncertainty that it will be a miracle if we all survive it. If ever there was more inspiration to vote, I can't think of when. We "liberals" have been coasting in neutral too long, as if content that it will all work out in the end. Make no mistake, we let this happen.

  186. What will be the judgement of history on these high officials who had the option of the 25th Amendment, yet failed to pursue it?

  187. I hope people appreciate the full import of this story. A group of very conservative, very doctrinaire, hard-line foreign policy Republicans quite literally felt the need to HIDE the substance of a CRITICAL NATO agreement from Trump because they were afraid of how he would react. Let that truly sink in and then let it sink in some more.

  188. Love it. Working behind the back of our great leader to, basically, prevent him from doing what he does so well: create chaos and uncertainty.

    I never thought I would see the day when I was rooting for John Bolton.

    Gives one an idea of how extensive the crazy in this admin has been and continues to be.

  189. Close your eyes for a moment...

    Imagine that this was happening under a President with a “(D)” after his name.

    Imagine the ferocity of the uproar from the GOP, calling for immediate impeachment.

    Imagine a United States where Congress upholds it’s Constitutional duty, for the good of the country.

    One day, we will all wake up from our current nightmare and thank our lucky stars that we live in a free, democratic society governed by the rule of law. However hopeless this current administration is, one way or the other it will end when voters realize that elections have consequences.

    Imagine that.

  190. Well, if I didn't think Trump's behavior stems from a highly suspect affinity for, or obligation to, Russia, I'd say this was a clear sign that he should undergo an assessment by an independent mental health professional. When your own senior staff can't trust you to be rational, and go to some lengths to keep decisions outside your reach, how is that a different situation than having a president with, say, Alzheimer's?

    Either way, Russia affinity or mental health, it's not a good situation, and apparently his own staff knows it.

  191. So Trump's top advisers had to stop him from stopping the strengthening of NATO defenses against an expansionist Russia. In other words, they prevented him from engaging yet again in a dereliction of duty that weakens the United States and strengthens an adversary.

    Forget about the Mueller investigation for the moment. Regardless of its findings, Trump should be impeached for everything he is doing and failing to do as commander in chief.

  192. Although nestled rather quietly next to a large caricature of Paul Ryan, is this not a blockbuster of a story?

    While I have no use for Trump or most members of his Cabinet - and especially John Bolton - if these events truly occurred without Trump's knowledge and he first hears of them here, the "stable genius" is likely to blow his loose-fitting cork, or so it seems to me.

    Given his volatility and impetuosity, and loyalty being everything to him (even if it's a one-way street as he's shown time and again), I have to wonder if Pompeo, Mattis, Bolton et al were drafting their notes atop a copy of the 25th Amendment.

  193. I honestly never expected that John Bolton would be a positive influence on foreign affairs. And yet, at least on this occasion, he appears to be less destructive than president DJ Trump.

    Not that this is difficult, of course.

  194. More evidence to undermine the weight that should be attached to any of trumps statements. He is a figurehead rather than the operator, as what he says (pull out of NATO) is not what he or white house policy means. This reflects a broad legal argument that Giuliana and the legal team will use to dig trump out of any case put forward by Muller. Essentially that trumps words / tweets should be taken as the ramblings of an individual, and not presidential policy.

  195. There is a new world order developing and it goes beyond boundaries on a map, beyond treaties and beyond NATO. It is no longer an east versus west configuration, because it is based in decimal points that move in nanoseconds among bank accounts.

    The Oligarchs surround the Russian Czar (Putin) and they are controlling the flow of that money. They now seem to have control of the American President that at every turn is making those Oligarchs' influence greater and greater.

    If all of the NATO countries are suddenly forced to spend percentages and billions more of their budgets on military spending, then that is money that is being taken away from their social programs - the backbone of many of the Socialist governments.

    They then lose power which directly props up the right in those countries. Nationalism rises as a result, since there is now less money, and the blame for it is pushed on ''other'',

    All part of the neocon plan.

  196. Who knew John Bolton would be the sane one? I guess it's all relative. This is the guy who has expressed nothing but disdain for diplomacy and arms control, preferring instead military solutions to address our troublesome neighbors, including calling for pre-emptive strikes against North Korea and Iran. And while he is a hawk toward Russia, it makes me somewhat nervous when he is the one pushing for a 30-day NATO response time to address Russian aggression. Did he push this communique because he wants to promote peace or because he is itching for war?

  197. @Tom While I get what you're saying, this is what we've come to - John Bolton is the sane one. Yikes!

  198. @Tom Bolton like all the other chicken hawks stepped back when it was their time to serve but they are eager to send your sons and daughters to their death for wealthy owners of our war machine.

  199. @Tom

    The 30 day requirement is pretty normal. In fact, given the speed of modern warfare, it's quite slow. If I'm remembering correctly from my 80s European service, we agreed to have 20 divisions on the ground in 30 days. I wouldn't be surprised if we had the same type of agreement with Japan and South Korea.