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Trump Throws Grenade into NATO Summit

July 12, 2018 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump in effect blew up the NATO summit, declaring yesterday that 2% of GDP for defense spending was not enough, and it should be 4%. He said this at a time when various NATO “allies” wanted to bring up their concerns and objections about his July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, “he just left after he announced that.”

Britain’s Guardian wrote in dismay:

“Trump left the assembled presidents and prime ministers floundering, unsure whether he was serious about the 4% target, double the existing NATO target of 2%, which many do not meet, or whether it was just a ploy.”

Ploy or not, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, “During the President’s remarks today at the NATO summit, he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2% of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4%. President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and, at a very minimum, meet their already-stated obligations.” She also pointed out that President Trump had made the 4% demand last year.

The Guardian whined that Trump’s move “will please Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has long pursued a strategy of creating division in NATO.”

Trump himself tweeted:

“What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”

The Guardian reports that Theresa May, who was sitting next to Trump, agreed: “Of course, more can and should be done in terms of defense spending. Our collective security depends on it,” but other British officials did not back Trump’s call for the U.K. to nearly double its defense spending.

May also asked Donald Trump to raise the issue of Russian aggression against the West, including the Salisbury nerve agent attack, when he meets Putin. In her presentation she said that it was time for NATO members to call out Russia’s “malign behavior,” which was undermining democracies and damaging their interests around the world. The Guardian comments:

“Trump’s decision to meet Putin was widely regarded as a blow to the prime minister’s attempts to isolate Russia following the Salisbury attack in March, even though he had strongly condemned the Kremlin’s actions at the time.”

Trump did sign the summit’s 23-page joint statement.

Trump tweeted on July 11:

“Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia. They pay only a fraction of their cost. The U.S. pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe, and loses Big on Trade!”

And again this morning:

“On top of it all, Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia. Not acceptable! All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!”

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