Even if U.S. President Donald Trump had not been caught on tape physically shoving Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way during a photo op at last year's NATO summit in Brussels, Trump's comments last night about the tiny European nation would still be galling.
But Trump was caught on tape doing exactly that and still went on with FOX News' Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night where he questioned Montenegro's value to the NATO alliance and insulted its citizens by calling them "very aggressive people" who might somehow get the U.S. involved in a third World War.
"Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member that's attacked," Carlson explained to Trump. "So let's say Montenegro, which joined last year, is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?"
And Trump answered: "I understand what you're saying. I've asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people … They're very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations you're in World War III."
Trump again questions Article 5, the core joint defense principle of NATO while suggesting Montenegro will attack someone & start WW III. Article 5 has been invoked once—on September 12, 2001. Trump’s behavior is so dangerous for international security. pic.twitter.com/QC10kFSdce— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) July 18, 2018
In response, many noted that the example of Montenegro deserves scrutiny, given that Russia was vocally opposed (though not without reason) to the country joining NATO—which it only did in 2016. Some within the Montenegro government at the time accused Russia of trying to subvert its membership by backing an internal coup. As Vox's Matt Yglesias opined on Twitter:
It’s weird that Donald Trump had a long private meeting with Vladimir Putin and suddenly emerged with a newfound interest in undermining US security guarantees to Montenegro. https://t.co/I8msFXPN26— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 18, 2018
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And who you calling "very aggressive," Mr. President? The very rude Trump and "aggression intended" pushing of Markovic in 2017 looked like this:
During his visit to NATO headquarters, Trump moves in front of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic to be in front of the group pic.twitter.com/kYDfshnVrp— POLITICO (@politico) May 25, 2017
And in slow motion:
Slow motion Trump at NATO physically moves aside Montenegro PM Dusko Markovic to get in front! pic.twitter.com/1FQsoDJR2i Aggression intended.— R Beaupre (@benaxor) May 25, 2017
Trump was already receiving low marks and a cold reception for his remarks at the summit, but the lack of etiquette opened a fresh round of criticism for the president on his first trip representing the U.S. abroad.
Social media users quickly condemned and ridiculed Trump's behavior: