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Ahead of Trump Visit, NATO Leaders Spin Poor Defence Spending Figures

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Senior figures within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) scrabbled to justify low levels of commitment to the organisation and defence spending ahead of President Donald J. Trump’s arrival in Brussels Tuesday.

President Trump, pictured above as he departed the White House Tuesday morning on his way to Europe, has repeatedly made clear his disappointment in the attitude to the NATO alliance by key partners, and he is expected to be asking tough questions of fellow world leaders Tuesday and Wednesday before departing Brussels for London.

While some have chosen to criticise the President for taking the alliance to task, behind Trump’s comments are the raw figures that show the vast majority of NATO nations do not pay the two per cent of GDP on defence minimum required by mutually-ratified treaty and have not done for many years.

The end result of this imbalance has been the United States paying the bill for collective defence of the NATO allies, while many European partners enjoy the benefits of common security while hardly contributing to it.

Defending the record of Europe’s reluctant NATO members, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal Sunday in which he praised low spenders for slowly increasing their benefits. Far from hitting the two per cent minimum agreed to by all parties as recently as 2014 at the NATO Cardiff summit, Stoltenberg boasted that just eight out of 29 nations were expected to hit the minimum this year and a “majority” were expected to by 2024.

Even if Stoltenberg’s best case scenario were realised, this would potentially leave 14 nations still failing to hit the minimum requirement a full decade after promising to do so at Cardiff, while continuing to ride on the coattails of other, more committed partners. It is not clear whether NATO would even reach that level without a Trump Presidency — as Stoltenberg notes, “…upswing in NATO defense spending over the past year and a half demonstrates that his efforts are making a difference.”

Others were less conciliatory — Top EU President Donald Tusk was characteristically blunt on Tuesday when he criticised President Trump for holding his NATO allies to account. Appearing to even belittle the world’s foremost superpower, Tusk quipped: “Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have all that many.”

Although Tusk is not a NATO leader, he is a senior European Union figure and will be present at this week’s NATO talks. He has been central to developing the EU army, widely seen as a move to pivot Europe away from NATO and hence the United States.

NATO boss Stoltenberg has even warned against EU members turning their back on NATO with the new continental single-military, remarking in December: “There has to be coherence between the capability developments of NATO and the European Union. We cannot risk ending up with conflicting requirements from the EU and from NATO to the same nations.”

Speaking before he departed Washington D.C. Tuesday, President responded to Tusk’s taunt, remarking: “Well, we do have a lot of allies. But we cannot be taken advantage of. We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union. We lost $151 billion last year on trade, and on top of that we spend at least 70 per cent for NATO, and frankly, it helps them a lot more than it helps us. So we’ll see what happens.”

Concluding, President Trump said: “NATO has not treated us fairly but I think we’ll work something out. We pay far too much and they pay far too little. But we will work it out and all countries will be happy.”

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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