Campaign 2016: Foreign Policy and the presidential candidates

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigning in West Virginia. (AP photos)

(WLNS) – For almost 70 years NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been in existence.

We protect the nations that are a part of the pact.

In return they protect us.

But at what cost?

Both candidates agree NATO is costing the US far more than the other countries.

The topic of cost was mentioned at the latest NATO summit.

“That should be the motto of NATO in the future, where everyone plays their part. But the more you attack the institution the harder it is for these allies to go along with you,” explains Matt Zierler, associate professor of International Relations at MSU.

Donald Trump has said he looks at NATO from a businessman aspect.

“We pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO. That’s a lot of money to protect other people,” said the Republican candidate. “I’m all for NATO but I said they have to focus on terror also and they are going to do that. I think we have to get NATO to go into the Middle East with us in addition to surrounding nations and we have to knock the hell out of ISIS.”

Clinton is looking to continue the ways NATO can help us, especially when dealing with our Muslim allies.

“We’re working with NATO, the longest military alliance in the history of the world, to really turn our attention to terrorism. We’re working with our friends in the Middle East, many of which, as you know, are Muslim majority nations,” explains the Democrat candidate. “We need to be cooperating with Muslim nations and with the American Muslim community. They’re on the front lines, they can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else.”

According to Zierler, Trump focuses more on cost while Clinton focuses more on ties with the other NATO nations.

“Clinton seems to be very traditional in her approach that NATO is a good thing for the US. The disproportionate cost we can deal with and work with our allies to get them to pay for more.”

When dealing with NATO the follow-up questions for the candidates is often times terrorism is the Middle East and how each candidate would deal with ISIS.

Clinton has said “one of my first acts as president is to establish a commission on radical Islam which will include reformists voices in the Muslim community which will hopefully work with us.”

Clinton thinks fighting ISIS involves more strategy through technology rather then sending troops in.

“I don’t think it’s the smartest way to go after ISIS. I think it gives ISIS a new recruiting tool if we get back in the fight,” says Trump. “I think we have to have as our objective their defeat. I think you have to fight them in the air, you have to fight them on the ground and you have to fight them in cyberspace.”

When it comes to NATO and the tension in the Middle East both candidates have said that the safety of Americans will be their Number One priority.

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