President Donald Trump is stepping up his criticism of NATO member countries for failing to pay their fair share in the alliance.
On Friday, it was reported he sent personally-signed letters to eight NATO members “cautioning them about not meeting their spending commitments.” The letters were sent to Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands.
While Trump has held this position for a number of months, his criticism has increased ahead of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Brussels he is scheduled to attend. The summit will include important discussions about threats to the European countries, particularly Russia. Following the NATO summit, Trump is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United States overwhelmingly spends the most money keeping the NATO alliance together. The United States pays the highest gross domestic product percentage of the entire alliance, while having the highest GDP of all countries in the alliance. Trump is right in saying this isn’t fair.
“Germany has to spend more money. Spain, France. It’s not fair what they’ve done to the United States,” Trump told reporters on Friday aboard Air Force One.
Trump has been particularly critical of NATO members who haven’t met a 2014 commitment to spend two percent of their national GDP on defense by 2024. Currently, only Great Britain, Greece and Estonia have met the spending target. According to NATO projections, they have hope that four more countries — Romania, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania — will meet the target by the summit.
“If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their G.D.P. on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves,” Trump said in 2017 while visiting the new NATO headquarters in Brussels.
But Germany contributes just 1.22 percent of its GDP on NATO; France, 1.79 percent; Italy, 1.13 percent; and Canada, 1.31 percent.
All Trump is asking is: why?