BRUSSELS – President Trump on Thursday delivered his first NATO speech which publicly shamed member states by calling them out for failing to fulfill their financial obligation to the alliance. Basically, Trump called European leaders ‘deadbeats’ for not paying their fair share on defense costs for themselves and their allies.
The speech which was a bold rebuke took the more than two dozen world leaders by surprise. It will be remembered in history as a stunning dressing down which caused a mixture of disbelief and indignation that irked the arrogant Europeans.
Trump insisted that the 2% of annual GDP pledged by each member state towards defense spending was insufficient before publicly declaring that some allies “owed” arrears for years of lagging contributions and not paying what they owe.
“NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations, for 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” Trump addressed the stunned leaders.
“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.
“Over the last 8 years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined,” Trump pointed out.
“We should recognize that with these chronic underpayments and growing threats, even 2 percent of GDP is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing, readiness and the size of forces,” he addressed the leaders who were feeling uneasy at being publicly shamed and called out.
“We have to make up for the many years. Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats.”
The percentage goal, Trump was referring to is a financial pledge agreed upon by member states at a NATO summit in Wales in 2014. The pledge calls for allies to move toward spending 2 percent of their annual GDP on defence and also for 20 percent of that spending to be investments in equipment.
German is the wealthiest nation in Europe and in the alliance that is most notable offender incapable of meeting the spending goal of NATO. Meanwhile, bureaucrates in Berlin were not enthused by Trump’s public shaming of non-paying members of which they are part of,or those falling short of the pledged goal.
Defence Spending and Terrorism
In n his historic speech Trump linked defense spending and fighting terrorism, pointing out that NATO’s 2% of GDP contribution on defense by member as insufficient to tackle growing terror threats in Europe due to uncontrolled mass migration to the continent.
In opening his speech, Trump directed the first part to British Prime Minister Theresa May saying, “All of the nations here today grieve with you and stand with you,” alluding to the Manchester Attack before calling for a moment of silence.
“All people who cherish life must unite in finding, exposing and removing these killers and extremists – and yes, losers. They are LOSERS. Wherever they exist in our societies, we must Drive-Them-Out! And never, ever let them back in.”
He then touted his successful trip to the Middle East with the King Salman of Saudi Arabia where he challenged over 50 Arab and Muslim leaders during an Arab Islamic American Summit to confront, tackle and “drive out” radical Islamic terrorists from their territories.
“This call for driving out terrorism is a message I took to a historic gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders across the region, hosted by Saudi Arabia. The leaders of the Middle East have agreed at this unprecedented meeting to stop funding the radical ideology that leads to this horrible terrorism all over the globe.”
Immigration and Security
President Trump also linked the issue of unchecked immigration and security and the need for increased funding to tackle the nature of the changing threat – terrorism. He then hammered NATO leaders for their destructive open-door immigration policies which have contributed to heightened security concerns as terrorism activities spread throughout Europe.
As a jibe to President Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier mentioned the Berlin Wall a remnant of which now stands at the courtyard of the new NATO headquarters that, “It is not isolation and the building of walls that make us successful but open societies and the sharing of values.”
The statement which was in reference to President Trump’s proposed southern Border Wall between Mexico and the United States which didn’t go unnoticed by Trump brought this sharp remark,
“Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever.
“You have thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries and spreading throughout, and in many cases, we have no idea who they are. We must be tough, we must be strong and we must be vigilant,” Trump said.
“The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration,’ he continued saying this of jihadist and suicide bombers,
“Wherever they exist in our societies, we must drive them out and never, ever let them back in.”
However, it was Trump’s blunt message on non-compliance and rebuke to Heads of States gathered before him that left them feeling unease at being called out and chided like misbehaving school children.
Trump said he had been “very, very direct” with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and other nations “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 are supposed to be paying, for their defense.”
Trump then pointed out that the U.S. has spent more money on defense in the past eight years than the combined spending of all other NATO members.
“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. Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves,” he added.
Trump called on NATO allies to make good on pledges to spend at least 2 per cent of their GDP which he referred to as “the bare minimum” on defense, including paying what they owe and updating payment status with their NATO dues.
“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,” he insisted.
As a last jibe to the gathered heads of state, he departed from the prepared speech to comment on the ostentatious new NATO headquarters whose final price tag was an astounding $1.23 billion, way more than the initial budget.
“I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost,” Trump said, bringing attention to the glass structure. “I refuse to do that, but it is beautiful.”
While this speech is one of many historic Donald Trump Speeches, it will be remembered for its take down of the arrogant European leaders who dismissed his candidacy.
In typical Trumpian fashion, he threw in another wrench by not endorsing or explicitly affirming NATO’s common defense principle that – an attack on one is an attack on all – living European leaders and the alliance wondering where exactly America stands.
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