Shoving the Prime Minister of Montenegro out of the way before striking a dramatic pose, President Trump’s expected “toughness” toward NATO during the Brussels summit turned into downright belligerence, taking the usual surly American speech about other NATO nations not having such recklessly large miliitaries to excess.
Trump insisted it was “not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States” that NATO doesn’t spend way more on their militaries, insisting that only with complete contributions from the entire alliance would NATO ever be strong enough to handle the threat of terrorism.
Trump not only demanded that the NATO nations all get up to that artificial 2% spending goal that the US has been harping on for years, as if it was an actual requirement, but also insisted that NATO nations must “pay” the United States the difference from past years, which again is obviously not a requirement.
Perhaps more glaringly from the perspective of NATO members, however, Trump appeared to condition US military support for NATO on getting that money, when asked about mutual defense within the alliance, he insisted he would defend those who “fulfill their obligations to us.” White House officials were quick to back away from this.
This was Trump’s first direct speech to NATO, an organization he has conceded in the past he doesn’t really know much about.what NATO was, and complained NATO doesn’t fight terrorism because “back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had promised Trump would be “tough” with NATO, and he certainly delivered on that, but to what end is anyone’s guess, as much of his diplomacy so far has been to demand money from people who don’t owe it, condemn past diplomatic efforts as failures, and brag about how tough and decisive he believes himself to be.