Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump left for Europe, where his first order of business will be a NATO summit. While overseas, he will also be visiting the United Kingdom and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland.
Before going overseas, Trump made sure to fit in yet another attack on U.S. allies that is in line with many he’s launched in the past. In an early Tuesday morning Twitter rant, he went after fellow members of NATO for supposedly not doing enough for their own defense.
‘Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)! NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!’
Trump has raised this issue in the past. He did so on Twitter just this past Monday, echoing sentiments that he incorporated into letters to the heads of NATO countries sent earlier this year.
There remains more to the story than what Trump lets on, however. The issue that he has is that a number of countries that are members of the Western world’s Cold War-birthed alliance spend less than 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense. Every member of NATO spending at least that much on defense was established in recent years as a goal. When Trump took office, only four countries did so; those nations were the United States, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Greece.
Other nations including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Romania have ended up on track to spend that much on defense this year, and still others are on track to spend that much in coming years. It’s not enough for Trump, however.
He continues to lambast United States allies and make it seem possible that the United States will dial down military support of Europe. He seems to envision NATO as something where it’s every country for itself rather than an expression of a network of alliances that goes beyond the organization no matter how much each nation spends on defense. He’s treating global policy as if the aim was to make the most profit without regard for any other interest, but this isn’t the private business sector. There are real world possible outcomes of his policy decisions that include people suffering and being threatened.
The goal of NATO members spending two percent on their defense was not intended to define the entirety of the relationship between the U.S. and its allies going forward, and yet, as if the only relevant interest here is Trump and not the entirety of the United States’ best interest both past and future, that’s how he’s treating it.
Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute commented to The Washington Post:
‘The concern I have is that [2 percent] has become a bumper sticker which sort of amplifies the transactional approach of this administration. It gives them a ready, easy-to-understand measure of transactional pros and cons. And it was never intended that way.’
NATO allies will be facing this approach to alliance issues from the U.S. president this week in Europe.
Check out Twitter’s response below.
Featured Image via Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images