U.S. President Trump met with NATO leaders on Thursday at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and said in a speech that it’s unfair to U.S. taxpayers that 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying for their defense and haven’t met the NATO shared target of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense, a goal that was mutually agreed upon in 2006.
President Trump used the same type of language during his 2016 presidential campaign when he also added that the NATO was obsolete and noted the U.S. may not come to the aid of NATO countries that aren’t contributing enough of their budget towards defense.
During his speech before NATO leaders on Thursday, President Trump said that two percent is the “bare minimum” for confronting today’s “very real and very vicious threats” and emphasized that even 2 percent of GDP is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing, readiness, and the size of forces.
The 2 percent target was originally intended to serve as a sign of each member’s own commitment to contribute towards NATO’s overall defense capabilities and evokes a stronger international perception about the credibility of the alliance’s capabilities on a military and political scale.
President Trump pointed out that during the last eight years, the United States has spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined and spoke about making NATO more adaptable to focus on terrorism, immigration, and outside threats from Russia.
“The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration, as well as threats from Russia and on NATO’s eastern and southern borders” President Trump said.
NATO hasn’t been standing alone in the corner of the globe and added 12 new members since Germany’s reunification in the 1990’s, marking the end of the cold war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken nostalgically about restoring Russian power across the globe and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 while his government in Moscow has been accused of supporting Russian separatists in the Donbass region in southeast Ukraine, boosted military support for the Assad regime in Syria, and recently worked to disrupt the U.S. 2016 presidential election and other elections in Europe.
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty requires member states to come to the defense of any attacked member country.
Article 5 was invoked after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. and was used to lead a NATO operation in Afghanistan; however, there was divided support among NATO to go along with the U.S. invasion of Iraq to overthrow Iraqi President Sadaam Hussein on the faulty premise that he possessed weapons of mass destruction.
On Thursday during the NATO meeting, President Trump offered his thanks to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York for contributing a remnant of the North Tower of the World Trade Tower towards NATO’s new headquarters and also thanked German Chancellor Merkel and the German people for donating a portion of the Berlin Wall.
“It is truly fitting that these two artifacts now reside here so close together at the new NATO Headquarters” President Trump said.
President Trump admitted that each new dedicated object represents a pivotal event in the history of the NATO alliance and in the battle of good versus evil.
“On one side, a testament to the triumph of our ideals over a totalitarian Communist ideology bent on the oppression of millions and millions of people; on the other, a painful reminder of the barbaric evil that still exists in the world and that we must confront and defeat together as a group, as a world.”
Earlier in the NATO meeting during a group photo, President Trump shoved and moved aside Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic as he walked to the front row with a group of NATO leaders.
President Trump left the NATO meeting early and flew to Sicily, Italy for the start of a G7 meeting.
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