At a campaign rally on February 10, former President Donald Trump said that if he were to return to the White House as president, America would not defend a NATO member country that came under attack from Russia, if that nation has not met the stipulated 2% of GDP spending target on national defense. That is a highly dangerous pronouncement that should be denounced by every American, regardless of political persuasion.

Article 5 of the NATO Treaty provides that “If a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.”

Because the combined economic and military resources of the thirty-one (soon to be thirty-two) members of the alliance is enormous, Article 5 is an extremely valuable deterrence tool against threats from adversaries like Russia and China. By his careless talk, the former president is weakening the alliance. He is putting many member nations, particularly the likes of Poland and the Baltic states that lie in close proximity to Russia, at risk.

The precarious world we live in today is not one in which even a mighty country like the U.S. should think about going it alone. Trump is surely aware that America is the one country that Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and the other members of that axis, hate the most. They are actively plotting to undermine our country in every possible way they can. And, animosity from the Global South toward America is intensifying by the day. America needs to keep its friends closely by its side in these perilous times, and that is why Trump’s loose talk, which risks alienating our allies, should not be tolerated by any American.

The only time Article 5 has ever been invoked was right after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. Other NATO member countries provided troops, weapons, and various forms of assistance to help the U.S. in its hunt in Afghanistan for the al-Qaeda terrorists that carried out the attacks. That kind of solidarity is something we should always remember and be thankful for as Americans.

It is quite ironic that Trump is the one who finds the inadequate defense spending by other NATO members so irksome that he is threatening to throw them to the sharks. For many years, he himself has been dogged by questions about his compliance with tax laws. I vividly remember his boast during one of his presidential debates with Hilary Clinton in 2016 about not always paying his taxes in full because “he was smart.” Perhaps he was being sarcastic, but it was quite a shocking thing for a presidential candidate to say on live national television.

There was a period, after end of the Cold War, when it seemed as if the world was at peace and therefore nations could devote their resources to social welfare and other more productive things. Free trade became a global fashion, and it looked for a while that more and more countries would become prosperous over time, lifting millions of people across the world out of poverty. In that environment, one could argue that the countries that were shifting scarce resources away from the military-industrial complex were actually doing the right thing. To their credit, once they realized that the tranquility was a false dawn, those nations have quickly ramped up defense spending, with a handful of NATO member countries now spending above the 2% of GDP target.

I worry that Americans are not taking the rapidly escalating geopolitical threats seriously enough. We are spending too much time mindlessly fighting over trivial matters. We need to properly focus and hold accountable the leaders whose job it is to keep us safe from these external perils. They shouldn’t be talking so carelessly, as the former president did recently, and putting us at even greater risk than we already are.