Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald John Trump vowed that one of the things he would do as POTUS is to make fairer and better “deals” with supposed U.S. allies — in Asia (Japan, South Korea), and in Europe (referring to our allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO).
In the case of America’s NATO allies, they are supposed to pay at least 2% of their GDPs as their “fair share” in defense costs — except they don’t.
But the United States not only pays our “fair share,” we actually do more than our “fair share” by spending not the required 2%, but 3.6% of our GDP on defense. In dollar amount, U.S. defense spending in 2017 was $685.957 million — more than double the defense spending of all other NATO members combined, as shown in the table below (source: Forbes).
At the just-concluded NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, unlike his predecessors, President Trump confronted the other NATO leaders for treating the U.S. unfairly by their anemic defense spending.
During a meeting early Wednesday morning, July 11, President Trump publicly embarrassed NATO Secretary-General Jens “666” Stoltenberg. (See “Another candidate for the Beast“)
President Trump said to Stoltenberg:
“So, we’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. So, we are supposed to protect you against Russia. You tell me if that is appropriate. This has been going on for decades. This has been brought up by other presidents, but other presidents never did anything about it. It’s very unfair to our country, it’s very unfair to our taxpayers. And I think that these countries have to step it up not over a 10 year period— they have to step it up immediately.”
Reuters reports that in an emergency session the next day, July 12, Trump gave an angry ultimatum that the United States could withdraw its support of NATO and “would have to look to go its own way”, according to one diplomatic source present in the room. Reportedly, he also told the NATO members that “a commitment of 4 percent would be required to achieve parity with U.S. defense expenditures.”
Stoltenberg and the other NATO member states blinked.
Fox News reports that “after confrontational and testy discussions between Trump and other NATO leaders,” the U.S. and European allies signed a declaration stating they are “committed to improving the balance of sharing the costs and responsibilities of alliance membership.”
In an impromptu press conference after an emergency session on July 12, President Trump said that the leaders of several other NATO member states had agreed to more quickly meet their commitment to raise their defense spending to 2% of GDP. NATO allies in 2014 had vowed to meet the 2% spending target by the end of 2024. Trump said an additional $33 billion would be spent on defense by NATO allies in “a relatively short number of years.” (Radio Free Europe)
For their parts (Radio Free Europe):
- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that “all allies have heard President Trump’s message loud and clear,” but later clarified to CNN that NATO countries had committed to defense spending at 2% of GDP, but would not confirm a claim made by Trump that the target was actually 4%. Stoltenberg said: “We understand that this American president is very serious about defense spending, and this is having a clear impact.”
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was a “clear commitment to NATO” by all who attended: “The American president demanded what has been discussed for months, that there is a change in the burden sharing. I made clear that we are on this path. And that this is in our own interests and that it will make us stronger.”
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country remains committed to increasing military spending as it pledged in 2014.
Other NATO leaders snipped and denied that they had agreed to increase their defense spending:
- French President Macron insisted that the NATO members only agreed to the spending levels they’d previously agreed to in 2014.
- An unnamed “senior European official” derisively called President Trump a crazy “old uncle”: “It was more a rant ‘2% immediately’ than a formal demand…there was no clear threat of withdrawal…. Usual Trump: a stream of incoherent sentences…. The allies looked the other way as when the old uncle gets nuts.”
Ever ready with his snipes, fake-Republican and fake-patriot Sen. John McCain blasted President Trump for his “disappointing” behavior, “misstatements and bluster” at the NATO summit, and dismissed what Trump said as “the words of one man”. (New York Post)
Between McCain and Trump, I certainly know which man is actually looking after America’s interests — and his name sure isn’t John McCain.
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