Hours after opening the NATO summit with an unhinged attack against Germany, the White House followed up with an abrupt request for NATO member nations to double their defense spending target from the current 2 to 4 percent.
— Mike Dorning (@MikeDorning) July 11, 2018
The White House’s request comes as NATO members work to follow through on a pledge they made in 2014 to increase the proportion of GDP they spend on defense to 2 percent. Most all of them are on track to make it, yet Trump has railed against countries — particularly Germany — for not spending enough on their militaries anyway.
Shortly after the White House confirmed that they’re asking NATO members to double the amount they spend on defense, Trump attacked NATO live from the NATO summit. The president demanded member nations increase their military spending to 2 percent “IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025 [sic].”
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
Trump’s tweet reveals a profound confusion about the purpose of NATO. Though the president seems to think the organization is about the American military protecting Europe from Russia, it is in fact a military alliance between 29 countries. Since it was founded in 1949, the only time the NATO treaty’s collective defense article was invoked was following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
From now until 2024, member nations contribute to the alliance according to their capabilities — there is no firm commitment for specific contribution amounts. Trump, however, seems to falsely believe the United States is owed “reimbursements” from NATO members like Germany who are still in the process of ramping up their spending.
Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
While Trump repeatedly attacks NATO — in addition to his rant on Tuesday, he’s posted four separate tweets attacking the alliance since Monday morning — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to be living in a make-believe world where Trump is getting along swimmingly with other members of the alliance.
.@NATO is the most successful alliance in history. All #NATO allies have committed to extending this success through increased defense spending, deterrence and defense, and fighting terrorism. Weakness provokes; strength and cohesion protects. This remains our bedrock belief. pic.twitter.com/zDmTVZkEgp
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 11, 2018
Pompeo isn’t the only Trump supporters living in a fantasy. After Trump told reporters on Tuesday that his upcoming summit with Russia President Vladimir Putin “may be the easiest” meeting he has during his trip to Europe, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) resorted to pretending that the president actually meant the exact opposite of what he said.
“No,” Gardner said on Fox News, after he was asked if he thought what Trump said about Putin was true. “I think the president knows that’s not true as well.”
Fraying the NATO alliance, of course, has been one of Putin’s longtime goals.