Donald Trump continues to push NATO on burden sharing
US president Donald Trump has continued to push NATO allies to increase their military spending in line with the alliance’s 2% guideline even as he claimed credit Tuesday for successfully forcing member countries towards that goal — the total is up by $40 billion, with another $100 billion on the way.
“Since I came to office, it’s a rocket ship up,” the president said of the rising spending by alliance members, with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, by his side at a White House news conference.
Trump has been pushing NATO members to increase their defence spending since he took office and has at times seemed prepared to leave the alliance, calling it “obsolete”. To general alarm across the Atlantic he had even seemed unwilling to endorse a clause in the 70-year-old treaty that made a military attack on any member as an attack on them all.
The president framed the spending issue differently, often portraying it misleadingly as a failure of all 28 members to pay their share of a common kitty in the name of “burden sharing”.
Under NATO guidelines, each member country must keep its defence spending at 2% of its GDP at the minimum. Not of a common pool. Either way, he got his message across.
“We have 7 of the 28 countries are currently current (with their defence spendings) and the rest are trying to catch up, and they will catch up,” President Trump said and raised the possibility of raising the 2% bar “at some point”.
NATO’s Stoltenberg said the alliance’s combined defence spending has gone up by more than $40 billion over 2016, the year before Trump moved into the White House. By the end of this year, they would have added an additional $100 billion, he added.
But Germany remained in the president’s crosshairs. Its defence spending is 1.2%, with a goal of reaching 1.5% by 2024. He said he has “great respect” for Chancellor Angela Merkel and falsely claimed his father was born in Germany (though of German descent, Fred Trump was born in New York), but “they’re not paying what they should be paying”.