Trump Sets Stage for NATO Showdown as He Ties Defense to Trade

10 July, 2018, 17:15 | Author: Wade Massey
  • EPA-EFE  OLIVIER HOSLET

Within minutes of Mr Trump replied on Twitter, Nato countries must pay more, the United States must pay less.

With the established global order on shaky footing, President Donald Trump's weeklong trip to Europe will test already strained bonds with some of the United States' closest allies, then put him face to face with the leader of the country whose electoral interference was meant to help put him in office. "Thank you to all of my great supporters, really big progress being made", Trump tweeted. According to an analysis last month, the US share of NATO's total civil and military budget is 22 per cent, or about one-fifth of the total, compared with 10 per cent for the United Kingdom and France and less than 15 per cent for Germany and the rest from other alliance members.

The ties between the US and many of its longest-standing allies have frayed since Trump took office and put his "America first" agenda into practice.

Only eight of the 29 NATO members are expected to reach the target of spending 2 percent or more of their GDP on their armed forces this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in February.

Trump's comments come the day after U.S. NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison said efforts to prod members into increasing their defense spending are finding success. Not fair to the United States taxpayer.

Mr. Trump, who has compared the Brexit vote to leave the European Union to his own election, will be making his maiden presidential trip to Britain at a fraught time for May. USA doesn't have and won't have a better ally than EU.

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The unpredictable Trump's affinity for the leaders of NATO's 28 other members carries the potential to further blur the lines between who is a friend and who is a foe.

If Putin and Trump agree to restore the full complement of diplomatic staff, it would be the symbol of a new start, Reuters said. This is especially valued now, given their own deep internal divisions, which are magnified by the rot in democratic practice in some countries and the damage being done to security and the future of the European Union and Western security caused by Brexit. "[Trump] doesn't at least seem to reflect that what we share in common with our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies is not only a common defense alliance, but we have a shared belief in rule of law". He also let USA defense spending fall.

"Getting ready to leave for Europe".

President Donald Trump reportedly sought to ease Russian President Vladimir Putin's concerns that White House officials were trying to block a phone call between the two.

On another front, Trump has connected the defense issue with trade, criticizing Europe for a $150 billion trade surplus (though it can also be calculated as $100 billion) and trade barriers.

-With assistance from Tony Capaccio, Richard Bravo and Nikos Chrysoloras.

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