Donald Trump came in like a wrecking ball… to Thursday’s NATO meeting.
And no one should be too surprised.
The annual meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at their new billion dollar HQ in Brussels proved to live up to the Trump campaign promises, hammering the European and North American nations for not meeting their financial obligations under their membership.
However, the bluster from Trump today did not come from some far-off campaign trail stop in the American heartland— it was said directly into the faces of the leaders of the NATO member nations. Particularly, Trump buckled down on his well-worn campaign talking point: That a vast majority of NATO nations skirt their membership obligations, particularly the pledge to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.
In the eight-minute speech, Trump did not mince words about the nations not meeting their dues:
“[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. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. […]
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.”
While predictable, the brutal and direct challenge from America — the alliance’s strongest member — was noticeably awkward for the world leaders, who spent the speech shifting on their toes and looking uncomfortable beside the American president who was actively roasting them.
Here are some choice screenshots of the chilly, uncomfortable reception:
But things are not looking up for the alliance.
According to CNN:
Trump’s remarks — paired with his conspicuous decision not to reiterate US commitment to NATO’s mutual defense provision, Article 5 — are likely to unsettle allies who had hoped to hear Trump assuage their concerns about his commitment to the historic alliance.
Moreover, the President’s scolding was cast against a striking backdrop: the freshly unveiled 9/11 memorial, which marks the only time the NATO alliance has invoked Article 5. That decision triggered NATO’s participation in the war in Afghanistan.
But no matter how Trump evolves on the NATO issue, one can be assured that one principle will hold strong above all others: America First.