President Donald Trump went into the NATO summit with a clear intention: to get NATO members to pay their fair share. And according to the president, he got what he came for — even if the road along the way was quite bumpy.
“We really accomplished a lot with respect to NATO,” Trump said at a press conference on Thursday after meeting with NATO leaders. “Tremendous progress has been made – everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They’re going to up it at levels that they’ve never thought of before.”
Trump added, “Everybody in that room got along, and they agreed to pay more, and they agreed to pay it more quickly.”
Trump had even gone as far as to threaten withdrawing the United States from the treaty organization, leading NATO to call an emergency meeting to discuss finances and contributions among the countries. At the press conference, Trump claimed the “United States was not being treated fairly, but now we are.”
French President Emmanuel Macron sought to downplay the negotiation results, saying NATO members only agreed to a commitment of a 2% target.
“There is a communique that was published yesterday. It’s very detailed.” Macron said. “It confirms the goal of 2% by 2024. That’s all.”
NATO published the Brussels Summit Declaration, which states in part: “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defence Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit… All Allies have started to increase the amount they spend on defence in real terms and some two-thirds of Allies have national plans in place to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defence by 2024.”
At the 2014 Wales Summit, President Obama persuaded Allies to agree to increase their military spending following Russian aggression in invading Ukraine. But few countries have met the 2% GDP spending agreed to.
Of NATO’s 29 countries, only four countries besides the U.S. have met the 2% GDP spending recommendation: the United Kingdom, Estonia, Poland and Greece. Meanwhile, the U.S. contributes over 3.5% of its GDP on defense.
Now, Trump has obtained a commitment from NATO Allies to follow through with their agreement. Time will prove if NATO Allies honor their agreement under Trump’s leadership better than they did under Obama.