The New York Times reports: President Trump criticized Germany on Saturday for paying too little to both NATO and the United States for security support, a day after he held a chilly meeting at the White House with Chancellor Angela Merkel that showcased the two leaders’ disagreements.
“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Mr. Trump wrote in a post on Twitter as he began his weekend at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
“Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” he continued.
The message was misleading because no nation actually “owes” money to NATO; its direct funding is calculated through a formula and paid by each of the 28 nations that are members.
Mr. Trump may have been referring to the fact that Germany, like most NATO countries, falls short of the alliance’s guideline that each member should allocate 2 percent of its gross domestic product to military spending, but that money is not intended to be paid to NATO or to the United States. [Continue reading…]
Reuters reports: German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Germany owes NATO and the United States “vast sums” of money for defense.
“There is no debt account at NATO,” von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance’s target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO.
“Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism,” von der Leyen said.
She said everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a “modern security concept” that included a modern NATO but also a European defense union and investment in the United Nations. [Continue reading…]
The way Trump talks about NATO suggests he has the wrong model in his mind. He seems to view the international organization as an American-run club who members pay fees in order to enjoy services provided by the U.S., but it doesn’t work like that.
Perhaps Trump’s suspicions about getting “ripped off” are further reinforced by the fact that this club (for which the U.S. in reality only pays 22% of the organizational operating costs) is based in Brussels and led by a Norwegian.
For more details on NATO funding, it’s worth reading NATO’s own explanation. If Trump had the slightest interest in educating himself — he clearly doesn’t — he could learn a lot simply by reallocating 30 minutes of his time away from Fox News to Nato.int. On funding, the site even includes a Trump-friendly summary of “highlights” reduced to six bullet points.
(Just in case Trump and the other conspiracy theorists in the White House are perplexed by NATO’s logo which shows “NATO” and beneath that those letters in reverse, OTAN is not a secret code — it stands for Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord (NATO in French).)
President Trump told Chancellor Merkel that he will give us the largest and most powerful armed forces the world has ever seen. What on Earth was his point if there even was one?