On Thursday, President Trump appeared before NATO leaders in Brussels to once again urge the organization’s members to meet their financial obligations to the alliance. Each NATO member-state is mandated to devote two percent of their gross domestic product to defense, but only five of the 28 members are currently doing so.
The American President began by crediting the members of NATO for their swift action in providing the United States with support in the early days of the War on Terror, crediting each nation for fulfilling the mutual defense clause of the NATO charter.
“We remember and mourn those nearly 3,000 innocent people who were brutally murdered by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001,” Trump said. “Our NATO allies responded swiftly and decisively, invoking for the first time in its history the Article 5 collective defense commitments.”
“The recent attack on Manchester in the United Kingdom demonstrates the depths of the evil we face with terrorism,” the President added.
However, after conveying America’s gratitude for the international support in the ongoing war on terror, President Trump shifted his tone, addressing the group on their continued unwillingness to pay into the mutual defense of the alliance, and instead placing an undo level of financial obligation on American tax payers.
“I have been very, very direct with [NATO Secretary General Jens] Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.
“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years,” he said.
The United States spends more money on defense than any other nation in the world, and President Trump has made it clear throughout his campaign and first months in office that he intends to continue that trend in order to ensure American dominance on the battlefield of the future. Trump’s statements clarified, however, that despite his push to increase American defense spending, other nations must pay their fair share as well, in order to make NATO as formidable a defensive alliance as it needs to be in the face of increasing tensions around the globe.
“Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined,” said Trump. “We have to make up for the many years lost. Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats. If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today, especially from the threat of terrorism.”
Encouraging NATO members to meet their monetary commitments to defense spending has become a common trend among Trump’s appointments during their meetings with other nation’s leaders. American Secretary of Defense James Mattis issues public statements regarding the need to more equally share the financial burden of ongoing anti-terrorism campaigns on a regular basis, often while accompanied by his peers from other NATO nations.
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