Trump Has No Idea What He’s Talking About on NATO

One of the themes that Donald Trump has hit on again and again is this notion that other NATO countries don’t pay their fair share of the burden and that they owe money to the United States. He has even said quite bluntly that if they don’t pay up, we won’t protect them. He has no idea what he’s talking about. As usual.

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And he continued it:

In a joint press conference on Friday, Trump expressed “strong support” for Nato but reiterated his belief that member nations do not contribute a “fair share”.

“Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said. “These nations must pay what they owe.”

But Germany doesn’t owe money to the United States at all. Yes, we pay more than other NATO members do, but we do that by choice and there is absolutely nothing in the treaty that requires any other member nation to pay money to us, as opposed to paying it to NATO itself. A former representative to the UN explains it to him:

At a 2014 summit in Wales, members pledged to increase their military spending to 2% of GDP by 2024, a goal some have said is unachievable and unrealistic for several member states.

Ultimately, members’ contributions are based on each nation’s capability. Therefore, Nato member nations do not “owe” or have to compensate any other country.

On Saturday Ivo Daalder, who was permanent representative to Nato from 2009 to 2013, respond to Trump in a series of tweets.

“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.”

Trump also seems rather confused about whether he actually supports NATO. Just days before taking office, he claimed it was “obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago.” But now he says he supports NATO — as long as the other countries pay us protection money like we were mob bosses. The way Trump’s mind thinks is startlingly dangerous.

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