President Trump came, he punched, and he drove his point home. NATO will never be the same after Trump challenged the Organization to its core and read it the riot act by delivering an ultimatum.
Following his “America First” philosophy to make decisions based on the USA and not other foreign interests or multilateral concerns, Trump went to Brussels with both fists swinging.
At a breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General, Stoltenberg, who was previously Prime Minister of Norway, Trump laid down the law and reinforced his main point: pay up or shut up.
Only 5 of the 29 NATO allies are meeting their pledges of 2 % of GDP on defense spending. Germany is the worst culprit and is in effect, “taking the American taxpayer for a ride”, Trump said. Trump went one-step father saying Germany was a “captive” to Russia’s oil and gas pipeline and was spending billions on an unreliable source from the very adversary NATO exists to deter, namely: Russia. In a single exchange Trump won the war. He got them off guard and hit right between the eyes. It was a knockout punch.
All the MSM said Trump got it wrong, his figures were inflated or NATO gives the US other benefits, but they missed the whole point. Trump suckered punched the German juggernaut and their Chancellor; Mrs. Merkel and showed Germany’s paucity and hypocrisy in one fell swoop.
The formal NATO meetings were no less contentious. Trump had a series of bilateral meetings and changed the whole agenda to return on the final day to his major topic, burden sharing. His efforts seemed to work. He strong-armed the entire cabal to admit they needed to do more and immediately. Not sufficient, Trump said in his news conference they should be paying 4 % of their GDP if they want a real defense.
Trump in effect singlehandedly told our allies if they want defense they have to pay for it. We are not their piggy bank. The US has your back but needs to see a serious commitment: or else. No other President since Harry S. Truman started NATO in 1947 has had the “balls” to stand up and make the American case so forcefully.
Trump did not capitulate.
As a result NATO will be more focused, more deliberate, well funded and America and Americans can be proud. The hell with diplomacy spoke Trump—it hasn’t worked for decades so it was time to try something new. America is leading the world again after a long hiatus and an apology tour during the last eight years. Leadership means having the courage to lead. Trump gave a two-day seminar on leading to the NATO heads of state. Some didn’t like it. Tough love is what they got and he is watching budgets for 2019—the result will be duly noted and already the cash registers are ringing. Those that don’t meet the pledge will be cut out.