Thursday, May 25, 2017

CNN -- Trump scolds NATO allies over defense spending

President Donald Trump on Thursday lectured NATO member countries directly for not meeting their financial commitments to the alliance. Trump did not explicitly endorse Article 5, NATO’s mutual defense commitment.

Jorge Benitez, a Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and Director of NATOSource, said the president should have been "clear, transparent, and reassure our allies" about Article 5 since he was speaking in front of a memorial to the very tragedy that prompted it -- commemoration of Article 5, the commitment to mutual defense, invoked after the 9/11 attacks.

The key section of NATO is Article 5 commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state, in Europe or North America, to be an armed attack against them all.

Benitez said,"The US is now not a reliable ally"

Robert Reich says “Trump continues to be an embarrassment.

“Trump had an opportunity today to make amends for his absurd campaign claim that NATO is ‘obsolete,’ and when he questioned why the United States was spending its own money to defend Europe and threatened to withdraw if other members failed to pay their ‘fair share.’

“Which is why European leaders eagerly anticipated Trump’s speech today at the ceremony to dedicate a memorial to NATO’s resolve in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

“But Trump blew it.

“In his speech he gave no specific commitment to NATO. Instead, he publicly chastised his fellow alliance leaders for not being ‘fair’ to U.S. taxpayers, saying ‘23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying,’ and that they owe ‘massive amounts’ from past years. ‘I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenburg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.’ Even the 2 percent of their gross domestic products that members have agreed to spend on defense is ‘insufficient,’ he said. ‘Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats.’

“This is particularly bizarre coming from someone who refuses to pay his fair share of U.S. taxes, and who's determined to rig the system even more so his rich friends don't have to pay their fair share.

“Then Trump focused on driving terrorists out of Europe and not letting them back in, saying ‘all people who cherish life must unite in finding, exposing and removing these terrorists and extremists. And, yes, losers. They are losers. . . . Drive them out and never let them back in.’

“Immediately after his speech, subdued European leaders gathered for a ‘family photograph’ — a standard feature of such summits. As they chatted among themselves, Trump was left alone at the podium.

“Message to Europe: He doesn’t represent the views of most Americans. We’re doing all we can to get rid of him.”

Trump scolds NATO allies over defense spending

By Jeremy Diamond