The United States has long been imposed on by the number of countries not contributing their fair share to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, President Trump promised to change that dynamic, and he has.
He has had such an impact, in fact, that Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg lauded the results, which include having countries double their treaty-imposed financial obligations, while the percentage committed by the United States dropped from 20 percent to 16.
In the 3 decades before my election, NATO spending declined by two-thirds, and only 3 other NATO members were meeting their financial obligations. Since I took office, the number of NATO allies fulfilling their obligations more than DOUBLED, and NATO spending increased by $130B!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2019
At a conference on Tuesday in London, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Trump’s leadership with respect to the alliance’s progress.
“We are making real progress, most importantly on the burden sharing,” Secretary General Stoltenberg told reporters. “And your leadership on defense spending is having a real impact. Since 2016, Canada and European allies have added $130 billion more to the defense budgets, and this number will increase to 400 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.”
“This is unprecedented,” he continued. “This is making NATO stronger. And it shows that this alliance is adapting, responding when the world is changing.”
“Thank you for your leadership and your strong commitment to NATO,” Mr. Stoltenberg added.
President Trump has long been skeptical of the alliance, primarily because of the U.S.’s hefty contribution relative to other countries’ portions. During the conference, Trump heaped praise upon Mr. Stoltenberg and again highlighted the headway he’s made with the alliance.
“I think he’s doing a fantastic job,” Trump said of Stoltenberg. “I’m a big fan. His contract was extended; I was very happy about that. But you really are — you’re doing a fantastic job. We appreciate it.”
“I think the Secretary General will tell you that, through some work and some negotiation, we’ve increased the budget of countries other than the USA, because we’re paying far more than anybody else, and far more even as a percentage of GDP,” Trump continued. “But we’ve increased the numbers that other countries are paying, by $130 billion. It was going down for close to 20 years. If you look at a chart, it was like a roller coaster down, nothing up. And that was going on for a long time. You wouldn’t have had a NATO if you kept going that way.”
“And now we’ve really increased it incredibly well, and I’m happy to have helped. But the Secretary has been looking to do that for a long time. And, I can tell you, he’s very happy about it,” added Trump.
President Trump has been fighting for increased burden sharing by NATO members, and it’s working. Over $130 billion in new defense spending by member countries! pic.twitter.com/JXspMyufPs
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 3, 2019
Despite the progress, President Trump is still pushing other countries to meet their obligatory financial standards.
“Some [countries] are way below 1%,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday, “and that’s unacceptable. And if something happens, we’re supposed to protect them. And it’s not really fair, and it never has been fair.”
Delinquent countries have to pay up, Trump added, noting that “if they don’t want to, I’ll have to do something with respect to trade. And with trade, I hold all the cards.”
Question: You’ve called NATO member countries delinquent for not meeting the 2% standard. Where would you put Canada?
President Trump: “Slightly delinquent.” pic.twitter.com/FpoPuqCEw4
— The Hill (@thehill) December 3, 2019
Partial transcript via WhiteHouse.gov