- Rubio asks ex-secretary of state about nuclear arms, NATO
- Baker says there’d be ‘a lot more’ problems without alliances
While Donald Trump met with Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday, a Senate hearing provided a forum for critics in his party to take aim at his foreign policy proposals.
At the prompting of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the presidential race in March, former Secretary of State James Baker said that the world “would be far less stable” if the U.S. left the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or let South Korea and Japan obtain nuclear weapons, proposals floated by Trump during the campaign that made him the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
“We’ve got a lot of problems today, but you’d have a hell of a lot more if that were the case,” Baker, who was secretary of state in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, said without mentioning Trump by name. “NATO has been the foundation of peace and stability in Europe. The more countries that obtain nuclear weapons the more instability there will be in the world.”
Baker, 86, is a quintessential representative of the traditional foreign policy and political establishment for which Trump has shown little regard. Before serving as secretary of state and chief of staff under the first President Bush, he had been chief of staff and Treasury secretary under President Ronald Reagan. Trump and Baker ended up meeting at a law firm later in the day, NBC reported, without giving details.
Adding a twist to Thursday’s proceedings: The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that hosted the hearing, Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee, has praised Trump for “challenging the foreign policy establishment” in a policy speech the billionaire businessman gave last month. Corker, who has said he’d be willing to help Trump craft his foreign policy agenda, didn’t weigh in on the NATO or South Korea proposals in his opening remarks or initial questioning.
Baker was joined in the discussion by former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who served under President Barack Obama from 2010 to 2013. Donilon said he agreed with Baker’s comments on NATO and South Korea and thanked Rubio for offering the “thought experiment.”
“It’s not just a thought experiment,” Rubio of Florida responded. “It’s actually been proposed.”