President Donald Trump on Monday renewed his long-standing concerns with NATO, complaining that member states do not spend enough on their own defense as he prepares to attend the mutual defense organizations summit later this week in Brussels.
“The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable,” the president wrote on Twitter Monday morning. “While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%, and NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the U.S.”
Trumps complaints about NATO date back to the 2016 campaign, when he suggested that the U.S. might not meet its mutual defense commitment because other members had not spent the agreed-upon 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.
The U.S. president has since said his nation would come to the defense of NATO allies but has continued to harp on member countries to increase their spending, prompting many to do so, albeit not yet to Trumps satisfaction. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday, wrote that he expects eight NATO nations to meet the 2 percent of GDP threshold this year, up from just three in 2014.
Trump also sought Monday morning to tie his complaints about NATO to his broader concerns about Americas trade relationship with Europe, which he says unfairly favors the European Union. In an effort to correct what he has identified as an imbalance, Trump has imposed tariffs on the EU, as well as on Canada and Mexico, straining relationships with longtime allies.
But to date, those trade tensions have not bled over into the military relationships at NATO, the U.S. ambassador to the treaty organization, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said over the weekend on “Fox News Sunday.” But after a contentious G7 meeting last month in Canada, during which Trump clashed badly with other world leaders over trade, this weeks NATO summit, with many of the same leaders, could present similar opportunities for friction.
“By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!”