U.S. President Donald J. Trump has suggested that NATO allies not just hit the bare-minimum spending level required of members of the alliance, but double their spending beyond that as he continues to pile on the pressure in what is turning out to be a singularly exceptional NATO summit.
The comments, that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members should go beyond spending two per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence — the present minimum expected of signatories — and go for four per cent instead, were reported from a private summit meeting in Brussels Wednesday by the Bulgarian Prime Minister.
What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
They were confirmed shortly after by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said of the claim: “During the President’s remarks today at the NATO summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2% of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4%. The President raised this same issue when he was at NATO last year.
“President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”
The President doubled down on his remarks very shortly afterwards when he took to Twitter to insist his NATO allies up their game immediately, writing: “Why are their only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”
Ahead of Trump Visit, NATO Leaders Spin Poor Defence Spending Figures https://t.co/gkyiyKcM8Z
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 10, 2018
The comments come as fellow NATO leaders sought to excuse their low levels of spending, with major economies like France spending 1.8 per cent, and Germany spending just 1.2 per cent. As Breitbart London reported on Tuesday, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg took to the Wall Street Journal to praise NATO nations for slowly increasing spending.
The NATO leader posted that eight nations were expected to have hit the two per cent target this year, and that at least half should have 2024 — a decade on from the 2014 Cardiff declaration in which NATO nations reaffirmed their commitment to the two per cent spending floor.
Yet this promise rang hollow Wednesday when the latest NATO official spending figures showed the number of nations meeting their obligation had only reached five — and the Europe-wide average spending level was just 1.5 per cent.
Trump Criticises ‘Delinquent’ NATO Allies on Military Spending https://t.co/m7BxHfCFQb
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 11, 2018
President Trump’s comments make clear he considers unacceptable the glacial progress towards two per cent by most nations is not good enough in an alliance which has traditionally heavily leant on the United States as a guarantor of common security, with other nations playing bit-parts. No NATO member — not even the United States — presently pays four per cent of GDP to national defence.
The remarks will be particularly heavily felt in some capitals — such as Berlin, where it has recently been revealed that not only are Germany’s only two naval tankers out of operation due to maintenance issues, but 124 of 128 front-line Eurofighter jet fighters are also out of operation, again due to maintenance issues.
Britain Under Pressure from Trump Administration to Boost Defence Spending After NATO Comments https://t.co/wynOAgPCLg
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 14, 2018
Meanwhile, in London, defence secretary Gavin Williamson has steadfastly been calling for significant rises to the British military budget — even going so far as to suggest it should rise from two to three percent of GDP. Although considered a stunt announcement at the time, it is a level of spending seen as recently as the 1990s, would help reverse the serious decline in British military capability, and now stands short of President Trump’s call for NATO solidarity at four per cent.
Williamson’s calls for funding have, so far, been steadfastly ignored by the Chancellor and the Prime Minister Theresa May — who may expect to be taken to task by President Trump in the coming days.