In an eight-minute speech at the NATO headquarters Thursday, president Donald Trump criticized NATO allies for not paying their “fair share” when it comes to defense spending. Trump spoke at an event designed to mark the alliance’s commitment to helping America fight terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Trump Pushes for More Burden Sharing
The U.S. leader underlined that 23 out of 28 members of NATO are still not directing 2% of the GDP to NATO, as all members had agreed to. And some of Europe’s strongest economies including Germany are not among the five nations that honor their financial obligations to the alliance.
This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,
He added that many of those 23 states owe huge sums of money from past years. His speech was met with uncomfortable looks on European leaders’ faces. The U.S. Commander in Chief insisted that he had been “very, very direct” with the alliance’s leadership and state members in saying that they must pay for their defense as America can no longer do it.
Trump underlined that over the last eight years, the U.S. spent more on NATO than all of its members combined. The president is now pushing for the concept of “burden-sharing” among NATO members. The defense of the NATO nations is based on money collected from those states’ citizens, but under “burden sharing” efforts, states will have to boost military spending, a political risk few governments are willing to take.
2% May Be Not Enough
In 2014, NATO decided to boost defense spending to 2% of GDP for all member states in the coming ten years. However, Trump thinks the two-percent figure may not be enough to meet the organization’s needs.
On the campaign trail, the U.S. leader criticized NATO for being “obsolete” because the Cold War ended. The same views are shared by Russia president Vladimir Putin, but Russia could be a cause of discord between America and Western Europe.
The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said in a press conference Thursday that the Russia topic could further sour the relationship between European states and the U.S. Tusk said that after he spoke with Trump, he could not say that Europe and the U.S. had a common opinion on Moscow. But when it comes to Ukraine, the two sides where on the same page.
In his NATO speech, Trump mentioned Russia only once. He mentioned the hostile nation among other threats that concern the alliance such as terrorism and immigration. The rest of the speech revolved around fighting Islamic extremism.
When Trump and Tusk met, they reportedly talked about North Korea, ISIS, and trade. Russia was not a topic of discussion, the White House redout of the meeting revealed. The Trump administration has yet to reply to a request for comment on the European leader’s comments.
Trump will meet again with the NATO allies he just lectured, Friday and Saturday at the G7 summit in Italy.
Image Source: defense.gov