Predictably, President Trump’s bold demand that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member nations start paying their fair share of defense spending, was slammed by the mainstream media who called it “toxic nationalism” and “diplomatic malpractice.”
Why is Trump being vilified for speaking the truth? The whole point of holding these meetings is to provide world leaders with an opportunity to raise and debate issues of international significance. Certainly, leaders are expected to behave in a diplomatic, if not friendly, manner. But, it does not mean that uncomfortable subjects can’t be raised. This is precisely the time and the forum in which to address the most serious member concerns.
Trump made the following controversial remarks on Wednesday:
Many countries are not paying what they should. And, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them. So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you’ll just add it all up…a massive amount of money is owed. The United States has paid and stepped up like nobody.
We’re protecting Germany, we’re protecting France, we’re protecting all of these countries, and then many of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. On top of that, Germany is just paying a little bit over 1%. Whereas the United States in actual numbers is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also. Now, this has been going on for decades. This has been brought up by other presidents, but other presidents never did anything about it because I don’t think they understood it or they just didn’t want to get involved. But I have to bring it up because I think it’s very unfair to our country; it’s very unfair to our taxpayers.
President Trump’s delivery was polite and measured; he did not raise his voice, nor was he rude. He had come to acknowledge the white elephant in the room, namely, that many member nations were not contributing their fair share. More specifically, he was concerned that Germany, with the world’s fourth largest economy, contributes only 1.2%. When Germany offered to work up to the 2% target by 2025, Trump said that was unacceptable.
He also questioned Germany’s natural gas deal (the Nord Stream pipeline) with Moscow. Angela Merkel “cut a secret, special deal with Putin where she gets a direct pipeline of natural gas right into Germany that does not go through any of the other NATO countries…and Germany is getting their natural gas at a much sweeter price than the other NATO nations.” Trump believes their energy dependence on Russia places them in a position of weakness in dealings with Putin.
What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
….On top of it all, Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia. Not acceptable! All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2018
Rush Limbaugh explains that:
What has happened here, is all of Europe has become totally dependent on Russia for natural gas and in some cases oil. The pipelines to European countries come straight from Russia — some of them through Crimea, other places.
She (Merkel) made a sweetheart deal with Putin, excluding other NATO countries…Trump said she is putting herself at great disadvantage with Putin in a geopolitical and diplomatic sense because now Germany has become so dependent on Putin.
He’s basically told the Germans that this bad guy now owns ’em!
Is Trump wrong to call her out on it? Of course not. Merkel has made some bad decisions. Many German citizens and even officials in her own government have lost confidence in her leadership.
The following chart indicates the military spending of NATO member nations both in US dollars and as a percentage of GDP. Few member nations are meeting their pledged military spending goal of 2% of GDP. The US, the UK, Poland, Greece, Estonia are at 2% or higher. France, Romania, Latvia are close at 1.8%, followed by Lithuania at 1.7%, and Norway at 1.6, Turkey and Bulgaria at 1.5%.
Most nations which either border or are closest to Russia are at or just shy of 2%. The rest, especially Germany with the world’s fourth largest economy, need to step it up.
We can always count on CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to recite the liberal talking points:
One also has to remember what the president of the European Council said yesterday, Donald Tusk, in perfect English. “Mr. President, appreciate your allies. After all, you don’t have very many right now.” Now, that also is a dig! That is a dig, but he’s stating a fact, that this is not the most popular administration in the history of the world.
I could not care less what Donald Tusk or Angela Merkel or Theresa May or Justin Trudeau think of President Trump. If Trump is unpopular because he puts American interests first, it’s okay with this conservative. Limbaugh points out the difference between Obama and Trump.
He (Trump) doesn’t think we have to apologize for anything. There’s nothing wrong with being great. There’s nothing wrong with American wealth, nothing wrong with America being a superpower. We’ve earned it, it’s merit-based, and we’re the good guys. We try to do good things as a result of it. But to the American left, we don’t. To the American left, we use our power to plunder and steal other people’s resources.
No matter what Trump said or didn’t say at the summit, he will always be despised and criticized by the left. If Obama had uttered Trump’s same remarks at a NATO gathering, the left would have praised him for his courage on the world stage. For them, it’s not so much the things Trump says or does that they detest, it’s the man who says or does them.
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