12 July 2018 – Brussels
US President Donald J. Trump left this week’s NATO Summit in Brussels having scolded NATO for its prolonged underinvestment in collective security but claiming that – in large measure due to his pressure – that they were beginning to move in the right direction.
While noting that only six of nineteen NATO Members – Britain, Greece, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — are presently meeting their agreed-upon commitment to work spend 2% of their GDP on defense, the President sensed commitment within NATO ranks to meet their individual national goals. Said Trump: “Everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They’re going to up it at levels that they never thought of before.”
In a comment that was reportedly dismissed by most in attendance, Trump added that he thought that NATO members could, in fact, even boost their national spending to 4% of GDP. (The U.S. presently spends 3.1%)
Although the President and other attendees characterized the leaders’ meetings as “collegial” and “respectful,” the summit commenced with Trump characterizing Germany as “a captive of Russia” and “totally controlled by Russia” based on Germany’s gas pipeline agreement with Russia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while repudiating the suggestion of Russian control of her country, said that it was “all in all, a very intensive summit” that involved a “very fundamental discussion.” She stated that “the American president demanded, what has been discussed for months, a change in the burdensharing” adding that she knows Germany “must do more.” (Germany presently spends 1.3% of its GDP on defense.)
On his previously-expressed view that the U.S. might, or even should withdraw from NATO if alliance members don’t meet their commitments, Trump said in response to query: “I think I probably can [withdraw from the Alliance’, but that is unnecessary. They [NATO members] havestepped up today like they have never stepped up before.”