President Donald Trump tweeted out from his Mar-a-Lago estate on Saturday morning saying that Germany owed NATO and the United States a lot of money for providing it defense – a comment that clearly illustrates his complete lack of understanding of how NATO even works.
The comment came a day after Trump held a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel and had discussions with her in the oval office. It was a pretty awkward meeting, to say the least. In one very unpresidential moment, the German leader acknowledged reporters asking for them to shake hands and mentioned it to Trump, to which he flatly ignored her.
Trump has stated previously before being elected that member states of NATO should pay more for their own defense and even suggested that he wouldn’t defend them (which would dissolve NATO immediately).
Now Trump is saying that they “owe” the United States – which isn’t true at all. Member states of NATO are supposed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense, according to NATO’s official guidelines. While it’s true that only a handful of the 28 members meet that requirement, that money is strictly based on their ability. The U.S. isn’t spending for them and thus there is no such obligation.
Iva Daalder, a former representative of NATO, kindly reminded the president of such on Twitter with his replies that the United States spends what it does because it is in its own interests:
“Sorry, Mr President, that’s not how Nato works,” he wrote. “The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato. This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.
“All Nato countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. So far five of 28 Nato countries do. Those who currently don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing.“But no funds will be paid to the US. They are meant to increase Nato’s overall defense capabilities, given the growing Russian threat. Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”
Featured Image via Getty.