President Donald Trump said during his address to Congress Tuesday evening that he “strongly supports” NATO, but that they must meet their financial obligations.
“We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism,” Trump said. “But our partners must meet their financial obligations.”
The president said that due to “very strong and frank discussions,” NATO members “are beginning to do just that.”
“I can tell you, the money is pouring in,” he ad-libbed during his prepared remarks.
NATO members have pledged to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product on their own defense, thereby reducing the burden on the U.S. to provide for Europe’s defense against potential threats and adversaries.
However, only five of the 28-member alliance currently meet that benchmark today: the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, and Greece.
Trump made asking U.S. partners to increase their responsibility for their own defense a central theme of his presidential campaign.
“We expect our partners — whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations and pay their fair share of the cost,” he said.
But while Trump said his job was to represent the U.S., not the world, he called for “direct, robust, and meaningful” engagement with other nations and “American leadership based on vital security interests” shared with allies.
“America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict,” he said.
“We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies,” he added. “Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.”
Trump did not mention Russia during the address, which military leaders consider the U.S.’s top threat, but with whom he has said he wanted to forge a better relationship.