European Leaders Take Trump NATO Comments ‘Seriously But Not Literally’: Times of London

US president Donald Trump is seen during his press conference at the 2018 NATO Summit in B
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“Many European leaders concede that he basically has a point”, The Times of London said in a rare concession to Donald Trump over his NATO comments that prompted pearl-clutching outrage by some.

European leaders reacted to Donald Trump’s comments on NATO over the weekend — in which he laid out his frustration at member states refusing to pay their way and yet still expecting full protection from America’s military might and hence the U.S. taxpayer — in two ways, a report in The Times reflected.

Not a newspaper particularly friendly to the 45th President, the British broadsheet noted that some reacted with “sheer horror”, like Spain’s Josep Borrell, who unironically accused Trump of unacceptably proposing an “A La Carte” alliance when his home nation has taken that exact approach to it for years.

Yet others, The Times said in an uncharacteristic concession to Trump’s particular approach to cajoling recalcitrant allies into meeting their NATO treaty obligations, realised this was actually an “appallingly cavalier but necessary wake-up call”. In the words, the response was to take Trump’s comments as a statement to be understood “seriously but not literally”.

President Trump had said last week: “You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?… No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

Skirting around the praise of Trump’s previous rounds of tough talk about NATO funding from the alliance’s boss, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who previously praised Trump’s strategy towards European delinquency —  which others decried as “damaging” — the Times report stated that “defence budgets across the continent have gone up quite a bit since the last Trump presidency”, making clear that many behind closed doors realise Trump is, in fact, right and that his efforts had actually made the alliance stronger.

The paper wrote: “After all, many European leaders concede that he basically has a point… [defence spending is] nowhere close to where they need to be if Europe is to take primary responsibility for its own defence.

“This is a structural imperative that will hold true regardless of who winds up in the White House at the beginning of next year.”

Nodding to the fact the attention of the United States is fundamentally more split now than it once was, with Israel and potentially Taiwan competing with Europe for its military resources, The Times echoed comments by military thought leaders, including from Poland, where a top security forum heard last year how America’s attention was shifting from Europe.

Professor Katarzyna Pisarska of the Warsaw Security Forum said in December: “For many younger Americans, including a generation of politicians, Europe is little more than an open-air museum. You feel and are actually closer to Asia and the Pacific region. China is the biggest geopolitical threat for them.

“…The USA is changing, demographically. There has been hardly any immigration from Europe for many decades, but from Asia and of course Latin America. This also changes the priorities of politics.”


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