Back during his campaign, Donald Trump said that he wanted NATO countries to start paying their fair share for defense — namely, 2 percent of GDP, the number specified by the treaty.
A lot of countries balked and pundits were skeptical about whether this would actually happen. What was Trump going to do, pull out of NATO? In mid-January 2017, during the waning days of the Obama administration, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman dryly noted that, “We will see what policy really is after the inauguration on Friday.”
Well, at least with the European Union’s second-biggest power, the policy was tough enough that they’re making new investments in defense.
According to The Daily Caller, French President Emmanuel Macron agreed during his White House visit Monday to increase NATO defense spending by 35 percent.
NATO was a sticking point on the campaign stump for Trump, who called the alliance “obsolete” and said that he would “certainly look at” pulling out of it.
When asked by Wolf Blitzer during a March 21, 2016 town hall whether we should consider leaving the treaty alliance, the candidate was unequivocal.
“Yes, because it’s costing us too much money,” Trump said.
“And frankly they have to put up more money. They’re going to have to put some up also. We’re paying disproportionately. It’s too much. And frankly it’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea. And everybody got together.”
“But we’re taking care of, as an example, the Ukraine,” he continued.
“I mean, the countries over there don’t seem to be so interested. We’re the ones taking the brunt of it. So I think we have to reconsider keep NATO, but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward the NATO itself.”
When Blitzer responded that NATO allies wouldn’t be happy, Trump said, “Well, they may not be happy but, you know, they have to help us also.
“It has to be — we are paying disproportionately. And very importantly if you use Ukraine as an example and that’s a great example, the country surrounding Ukraine, I mean, they don’t seem to care as much about it as we do.
“So there has to be at least a change in philosophy and there are also has to be a change in the cut out, the money, the spread because it’s too much.”
Ukraine, it must be noted, will see its defense budget increase by 28 percent in 2018.
Trump later said in a speech that his remarks on the obsolescence of a group devoted to tackling Soviet aggression, which hasn’t repurposed itself to fight the war on terror, were misinterpreted by the media.
Candidate Trump told an audience that he had merely said “to the best of my knowledge, the United States pays far too much proportionately, and why are we always paying the bills to protect other people?”
“And the press, which is so totally dishonest, the press goes headlines the next day ‘Trump doesn’t want NATO, wants to disband.’ That’s not what I said. I said you’ve got to pay your bills. And you know what? If they can’t pay their bills, honestly there should be — they’ve got to go. Because we can’t do this.”
Well, apparently, France can pay its bills.
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