During a visit Thursday to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, President Donald Trump chided — and possibly shoved at least one of — the leaders of the allied nations.
In remarks to heads of state at a NATO summit, Trump criticized them for what he characterized as not paying their fair share toward the mutual defense agreement.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 25, 2017
Trump opened his remarks by offering his condolences to British Prime Minister Theresa May, who was also in attendance, over the lives lost Monday evening during a terrorist attack in Manchester, England, that left 22 dead and dozens more injured.
The president said that “the NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration, as well as threats from Russia and on NATO’s eastern and southern borders.”
“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with Secretary [Jens] Stoltenberg and members of the Alliance in saying that 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 what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” Trump said.
“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” he said. “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.”
According to ABC News, the 28 member nations in the NATO alliance — as well as Montenegro, a nation that will soon join the alliance — "will renew an old vow to move toward spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024."
Only five member nations currently meet that goal: Britain, Estonia, Greece, Poland and the United States. The United States does spend more on defense than all of the other allies combined.
Trump argued that "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."
"We have to make up for the many years lost," he said."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."
During his visit to NATO headquarters, Trump also appeared to shove Dusko Markovic, the prime minister of Montenegro, out of his way in order to stand in front of a cluster of world leaders.”
Did Trump just shove another NATO leader to be in the front of the group? pic.twitter.com/bL1r2auELd
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) May 25, 2017
Trump shoved aside the Prime Minister of Montenegro, which is officially slated to join NATO in two weeks. Nice wel… https://t.co/jOu5zLOvPN— Brian Klaas (@Brian Klaas)1495733436.0
His face, after he makes the move, is utterly priceless https://t.co/ctVW39BRzF— Chris Cillizza (@Chris Cillizza)1495726115.0
Politico reporter Tara Palmeri tweeted that the White House said the exchange was a "casual greeting."