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Trump Arrives at NATO Summit, Critical of Defense Spending of Allies
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11 Jul 2018 12:56 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Public domain)



Donald Trump has had his share of summits with foreign leaders in the past few months. Many of them don't go well, and the one that did go well is now crumbling and falling apart.  With that as a background, the president is on to his next endeavor, the NATO summit, where he's already being critical of the defense spending of our allies.

He arrived at NATO headquarters on Tuesday and must have had the trials and tribulations of not being able to reunite all the immigrant children bothering him, as he was complaining from the minute he got there.

"Two percent," he demanded in tweets from Air Force One in Brussels. This is the expected amount for NATO members with regards to defense spending. But only four of 29 allies are meeting that mark. According to USA Today, he's "misrepresenting" the arrangement with the allies.

This just isn't a great way to start the NATO summit. He and allies are meeting to go over how they will respond to the expanding military in Russia, along with their political and cyber assaults in Europe.

"Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?"

The U.S. is one of only four NATO members that meet that two-percent mark. Poland did previously but fell to just 1.99 percent this year.

If there is one thing you can credit Trump with, it's having a one-track mind. He is always concerned with the U.S. getting a fair shake. But sometimes it's to the detriment of the country, as he doesn't worry about anything else that might come up by way of demanding a fair shake.

"The more he harangues allies, and the more he makes this the defining issue, the more difficult it will be for some allies actually to increase spending," explained the U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013, Ivo Dallder. 

"Given that Trump's popularity in Europe is at an historic low for a U.S. president, acceding to his demands is becoming more difficult for many European leaders."

European Council President Donald Tusk seemed to just want Trump to chill out a little. "Dear America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don't have that many," he said, obviously fully aware of the way Trump has been dumping allies left and right.

"We do have a lot of allies, but we cannot be taken advantage of," responded the president. "We're being taken advantage of by the European Union."

"The European Union makes it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe (the U.S. has a $151 Billion trade deficit), "and then they want us to happily defend them through NATO and nicely pay for it," he tweeted with his usual bad grammar. "Just doesn't work!"

Trump has also set his sights on attacking German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular. "Germany pays one percent. One percent," he complained at a rally last week. "And 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."

Experts don't think Trump is getting a full picture of the whole situation, as Germany's government spends money in other ways. They approved of  an increase in troops in Afghanistan. Other countries include military pensions in their defense spending totals, but that's not really what they're spending on current defense.

And still, our allies' expenditures on defense are escalating. 19 of 29 members spend more than they did previously in 2014, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says half the countries are spending at a pace that will meet the desired target by 2024. 

But it's something we've just come to expect. Trump will always complain that the U.S. isn't getting its fair shake, and that other countries are taking advantage. He's done that consistently with regards to trade, and now he's moved the same fight to defense spending.

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