During his speech to NATO, Donald Trump repeated his lie that the other member countries need to start paying America for protection. The reactions in the audience said it all.
Donald Trump never could understand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is the military alliance between North American and European states.
Which is probably why fellow NATO leaders viewed his coming address at the summit in Brussels with apprehension.
When President Trump took the stand to address the group, he met those low expectations with a speech that proved he still doesn’t know anything about the alliance:
These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they are supposed to be paying, for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.
And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years. Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves. We should recognize that with these chronic underpayments and growing threats, even 2 percent of GDP is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing readiness and the size of forces.
We have to make up for the many years lost. 2 percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats. If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today, especially from the threat of terrorism.
Trump’s idiotic claim that our allies are “underpaying” or owe NATO money has been repeatedly debunked. NATO is not some giant pool of money into which countries pay dues. Instead, member states agree to fund their own militaries by 2 percent of their GDP by 2024. Trump is correct that only five members of NATO currently do this, but there is still six years left for the other states to comply.
President Trump: “I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refuse to do that, but it is beautiful” https://t.co/kiPnjyrBaa
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 25, 2017
Regardless of whether this goal is met, NATO requires that if one of its member states is attacked and Article V is invoked, all NATO states must jump to that nation’s defense. Incidentally, the only time this happened was when America was attacked on 9/11. So, NATO has benefitted America more than any other country.
Perhaps the most obvious demonstration of the degree of Trump’s ignorance was the reactions of the other world leaders as he spoke.
Several presidents and prime ministers were seen on camera, muttering, staring at each other, blow away by what Trump was saying.
These leaders definitely had plenty of reason to express bemusement, as Trump said classic Trumpian lines alongside his typical lies and stupidity:
It is truly fitting that these two artifacts now reside here, so close together, at the new NATO headquarters. And I never asked what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refuse to do that. But it is beautiful.
Trump has brought in an era of American politics in which the truth has no meaning. Unfortunately for him, they are still important in the rest of the world, and to our allies.