Trump Berates NATO Allies For Poor Defense Spending, Says Other Countries Need To Pitch In, Too

The president cautions that he just might calibrate U.S. global military presence if things don't change.

Picture of President Donald Trump
Evan Vucci / AP Images

The president cautions that he just might calibrate U.S. global military presence if things don't change.

President Trump has a bone to pick with some of his NATO allies, and the U.S. president sent letters detailing his reasons to the leaders of the NATO allies in June. The letters were sent ahead of the 2018 NATO summit, and the allies mentioned in Trump’s blacklist include Belgium, Germany, Norway, and Canada. President Trump made a statement to the four through the letters that they are failing in their duties to meet security obligations regarding defense spending, reports The New York Times.

The contents of the letters that Donald Trump sent to the four claim they do not shoulder enough of the cost of the collective expense for defense. The president additionally cautioned “that after more than a year of public and private complaints,” he is quickly losing patience in the matter. He forewarned the leaders that the White House may respond by adjusting the global U.S. military presence.

The United States president didn’t mince words with other countries, either, in regards to those he felt should boost their military spending. Trump also sent a letter ahead of the NATO summit to remind Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of his predecessor’s promise to increase Spain’s defense spending, reports El País. He urged Spain to double their spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP). The letter the Spanish Prime Minister received is similar to letters Donald Trump sent to eight other countries that are spending 2 percent less than their GDP on military defense.

The Inquisitr reported last week that President Trump reserved some of his boldest criticisms in a letter to Belgium. He called them out in the letter saying, “Belgium has halted the systematic fall in defense spending and takes part in a lot of military operations.” Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, told the press after receiving the letter for Belgium that he was not impressed by the type of letter that Donald Trump sent.

During the Obama era, the former president made reference to the United States spending more than other NATO countries during his term, as well. President Obama said during his presidency that the U.S. spends more on defense “than the next eight nations” put together.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPR), a think tank that tracks defense spending, reported that the statement by the former president is mostly right. However, they corrected President Obama’s statement and reported that the U.S. spends more money on defense “than the next seven countries” put together, according to Politifact.

In fact, by SIPRI’s estimates, America leads the world with $610 billion spent, and that’s a proportion of 34 percent of the total of world defense spending. The United States military expenditures were almost triple China’s, who came in second with defense expenditures of $216 billion in military spending, according to the think tank. Russia came in third, spending $84.5 billion.

The controversial letters are a part of what President Trump considers to be lopsided costs that fall in a disproportionate amount on the shoulders of the United States. The letters echo what he previously said during a press conference during the G7 summit about the United States halting runaway spending that has happened up until now.

“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades….. It’s going to change, tariffs are going to come way down, we are like the piggy bank that everyone is robbing and that ends.”

He added the trade practices also lead to American companies and jobs being outsourced to other countries, a sentiment that resounds with many of his constituents.

A transatlantic trade war has already broken out between the U.S. and other nations, and it’s seeing countries such as Canada retaliating with tariffs of their own against the United States. The tariffs began, as promised, on Canada Day, with the country levying stiff duties on 80 different goods coming in from the United States. The retaliation is in response to metal tariffs that also affect Mexico and the European Union.

The tariffs and other recent policies of Trump’s White House, such as the upcoming Trump/Putin summit and the U.S. pulling out of the Iran deal, have been the global equivalent of stirring up a hornet’s nest. At best, the U.S. policies are making NATO allies nervous, and at worst they are leading to rapidly deteriorating situations that may last well beyond Donald Trump’s presidential term, according to EU officials.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, sent out a letter of his own to leaders of countries in the EU ahead of the NATO summit, writing that “trans-Atlantic relations are under immense pressure due to the policies of President Trump.” Because of this, we need to prepare for a “worst-case scenario.”