February 18, 2019

Trump Slams NATO Spending on Eve of Departure for Summit

10 July 2018, 06:01 | Devin Moran

Trump calls on NATO allies to pay up

U.S. President Donald Trump jokes with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson as British Prime Minister Theresa May walks past during a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of stat

The US, Trump stressed, was no longer going to be "the schmucks paying for the whole thing".

Asked if Putin should be seen as a friend or a foe to the United States ahead of their summit, Mr. Trump told reporters "I really can't say right now; as far as I can say, a competitor".

While countries closer to Russian Federation, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Poland, significantly boosted defense, most other members took a more relaxed approach, with Germany's defense minister saying in 2015 that she didn't see a need to meet the spending bar, Deutsche Welle reported. We pay far too much and they pay far too little. For context, the United States spends a massive amount on defense - 3.61 percent of our 2016 GDP was dedicated to it. U.S. reports have suggested Trump may be interested in a drawdown in Germany, but the much greater changes seem to just be further panicky speculation built around Europe's general opposition to the Trump-Putin summit.

Trump's tweets would likely set a combative tone for the upcoming meetings. By contrast, the United States has worldwide commitments and engagements-for which it devotes about 3.5% of GDP to the military-and only deploys a small fraction of its forces in Europe.

"It's not dues like a country club". Trump sent letters to the leaders of several North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries ahead of his visit, warning that it would become "increasingly hard to justify to American citizens why some countries fail to meet our shared collective security commitments".

"I want to dispel the American president's argument which says that the USA alone protects Europe against our enemies, and that the nearly alone in this struggle", he said.

Looming over the entire summit is Russian aggression in Eastern Europe and election meddling.

This disdain for US allies is essentially the beating heart of much of Trump's foreign policy, it seems. "Those of the leaders that have negotiated with Putin or have experience with him are going to have a hard sell to make about why our defense spending commitments in Europe are important and why the United States should continue to have troops in Poland on a rotational basis, for example".

Experts fear the trip could produce a repeat of the dynamics from Trump's last trip overseas, when he admonished Group of Seven allied nations at a summit in Canada before heading to Singapore, where he showered praise on one of America's longest-standing adversaries, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

European Council president Donald Tusk speaks after signing a new joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation in Brussels on July 10, 2018. "Frankly Putin may be the easiest of them all", he said.

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