President Donald Trump arrived in Brussels Thursday with a message for our NATO allies: America is not going to continue dedicating massive resources to the military alliance if member states do not reciprocate.
“I have been very, very direct […] in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations,” Trump said. “Twenty-three 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.”
President Trump’s numbers are accurate. Only the U.S., U.K., Poland, Estonia, and Greece have lived up to the alliance’s target goal of spending at least 2 percent of their respective GDPs on defense. Moreover, the $664 billion that the U.S. spent for military in 2016 amounts to more than double the cash spent by the other 27 NATO states, combined.
Trump argued that the American taxpayer is being forced to subsidize the defense of continental Europe.
“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,” the president said.
Last week, reports circulated that Trump would consider leaving NATO without a change from its members. On the U.S. campaign trail, Trump called NATO an “obsolete” organization, but later walked back those comments.
NATO is designed to be a massive force for deterrence, highlighting that an attack against one member-state should be seen as an attack on all.
The collective defense organization was formed in 1949 to deter the Soviet Union from invading European lands, and to resist the worldwide communist revolutions that were being aided and abetted by the Soviets.