Politics Magazine

Trump Lies About NATO Funding (& Threatens To Leave)

Posted on the 13 July 2018 by Jobsanger
Trump Lies About NATO Funding (& Threatens To Leave)
In a July 5th rally of his supporters, Donald Trump made a ridiculous claim. He said the United States  was paying between 70% to 90% to "protect Europe".  He also said at the NATO summit breakfast that many NATO nations are delinquent on their payments.The truth is far different. There is a formula for what each NATO member owes to fund NATO operations (based on their economy size and ability to pay). That formula is shown in the chart above.
The truth is that the United States only pays 22.1% of NATO funding, while the other nations pay 77.9%. And every single nation in NATO is current on those payments. NONE of them are delinquent!
Trump's real argument with the NATO nations is not on them paying their NATO bill -- they all do that. It is on how much they spend to fund their own military. Presidents Bush and Obama have requested they spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on their individual militaries. Most do not spend that much right now, but they all agreed to be spending that 2% by 2024 (and they made that agreement during the Obama administration).
That's not good enough for Donald Trump. Trump wants them to double that spending to 4% -- a level that the United States does not even meet (currently spending about 3.5% of GDP). He said they agreed to that -- they did not. Trump went on to threaten NATO. He said if all the NATO nations aren't paying 2% by next January, the United States would "go it alone".
Some people tried to gloss that over, saying it does not mean the U.S. might leave NATO. But that's exactly what it sounds like to me. What else could "go it alone" mean?
Can Trump withdraw the United States from NATO by himself? Most legal scholars say no (because it was ratified by the Senate), but some believe he can. The question has never been decided by the Supreme Court. But even if he can't officially withdraw from NATO with the consent of the Senate (which he would not get), he could (as Commander-in-Chief) refuse to honor article 5 of the NATO treaty and refuse to send American troops to defend a NATO nation that was attacked (especially if they had not met the 2% threshold) -- and that would amount to the same thing.
The other leaders in NATO should be very worried. In the past, they had a solid ally in the United States -- an ally that would spring to their defense if they were attacked. Trump has basically turned that alliance into a "protection racket" -- pay what the U.S. wants or you don't get protected.
Vladimir Putin has to be positively giddy about Trump's performance at the NATO summit. Putin would like nothing better than a weak NATO (or no NATO at all) -- and that is exactly what Trump is doing for him.

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