Donald Trump has boldly, yet diplomatically, told fellow member states of NATO to “contribute their fair share” to the trans-national alliance. During his speech at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, which conveniently at the same time serves as the capital of the EU, he conjured up memories of his campaign rhetoric in emphasising the lack of fairness in the current method of NATO funding.
Of course while the mainstream media was triggered by Trump daring to question the status quo, he rightly pointed out the fact that taxpayers of the United States have a greater burden in paying for the upkeep of the organisation, along with most member states not fulfilling their payment obligations. Only five out of the 29 NATO member states pay their fair share, with many other countries already behind and thus owing the United States great sums of money.
The objective of the alliance is to have each member state pay 2% of its GDP on defence, yet only five countries met this objective last month. The United States spent 3.61% of it’s economy on defence in 2016, and Britain paid 2.21%. Large countries like France and Canada only spent 1.78% and 0.99% respectively, much less than the likes of Greece (2.38%) and Estonia (2.16%).
Trump was in Europe to attend an unveiling of a memorial that included a section of the Berlin Wall and a remnant from the former World Trade Centre building. The President acknowledged the recent Manchester terrorist attack and its victims, highlighting yet again the impact terrorism has had on the safety and security of humanity. But of course, he was surrounded by leaders who continue to let their citizens endure hardship by doing nothing about immigration.
Other issues mentioned by Trump include immigration and “threats from Russia”. While the former example has been proven to be a problem multiple times (think of all the #PrayFor hashtags we saw in the past two years), the latter is not something we expect from Trump. While it is most likely that this was added by his PR team, Trump may also be trying to estrange himself from revived Russia allegations. These issues led him to raise the topic of fair NATO funding.
In fact, Trump stated the collective benefits of countries paying their fair share, such as an extra $119 billion for “our collective defence, and for the financing of additional NATO reserves”. He further stated the blunt truth (something he constantly gets berated by the left for) regarding the insufficiencies of spending even 2% of GDP on defence, given the current circumstances.
It is not fair for US taxpayers to be given this burden regarding the funding of a trans-national organisation simply because other countries are not willing to pay their amounts. Trump’s statements not only state this fact, but also come as a welcome turn of events in a time when many Trump supporters feel disillusioned by the continued foreign interventions carried out by the Trump administration. While Trump did deviate from his campaign rhetoric by saying he is both “nationalist and globalist”, along with his behaviour in Saudi Arabia, his recent comments are a good sign that he is reaffirming his America First pledge, pursing fair deals for the American people. We hope that this is followed with strong action.