On Monday, July 9, President Donald Trump issued a firm accusation against all other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, explaining that the United States of America spends more on collective defense than the other 28 nations involved combined.
As reported by USA Today,”The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable,” Trump tweeted a day before departing on a seven-day European excursion which will include Belgium, the United Kingdom, as well as Finland. “While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more.”
The president’s accusations seemed to single out Germany in particular, though, which had reportedly spent only 1.24 percent of its total 2017 economic output on defense, nearly a third of the United State’s reported 3.57 percent overall spending on defense in 2017.
Trump then went on to connect these issues with trade policies, mentioning that the European Union has a “trade surplus” with the United States and how that is affecting relations in these particular delegations.
Despite this, his argument does, of course, have fallacies, as the commander in chief tweeted that the United States is “paying for 90 percent of NATO” when in actuality figures go to show us having a 22 percent overall stake in financial contributions. Indirect spending, the money spent solely on defense, is at a reported 66 percent.
The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%, and NATO benefits.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
...Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
The president will be departing for Europe on Tuesday, July 10, where he will make his first stop in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss countering Russian intervention in Ukraine as well as the ever-growing threats of nuclear war and cyberattacks.
Last Thursday, Trump held a rally in Montana where he made significant mention of the issues he has also addressed today, speaking directly at NATO allies, he stated “You got to start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything.”
Following this, in what was clearly a direct dig at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president said “I said, ‘You know, Angela, I can’t guarantee it, but we’re protecting you, and it means a lot more to you than protecting us because I don’t know how much protection we get by protecting you.'”
A 2014 burden-sharing agreement amongst NATO members stated that each individual nation involved must have their overall economic contribution to defense be at least 2 percent by the year 2024. While currently only five of the nations involved have reached or exceeded that mark, hopes are high as further revitalizing of smaller European economies can correlate to an increase in spending, allowing all nations to have the means to reach the mark by the guideline six years from now.