From Robert Gehl: Apparently, anything that Donald Trump says is controversial, crazy, or just plain wrong.
Like asking America’s NATO allies to pay their fair share … the share they all agreed upon in the first place.
Being told they need to live up to their commitments is apparently such a shocker to our European partners that they just sat there, aghast at what President Trump was saying: You must “pay what you owe” because “it is not fair to the taxpayers of the United States.
Perhaps the shock was that a sitting United States president was standing up for the American taxpayer, rather than standing on top of them.
“In facing our common challenges, we must also ensure that NATO members meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe. Many have not been doing that,” Trump told the assembled leaders at the organization’s new headquarters in Brussels, The New York Post reports.
While Trump was making his points, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron “gave each other sidelong glances and remained standing by in awkward silence.”
The Canadian Prime Minister was equally stunned, apparently. He just stood there, staring straight ahead.
All of the 28 member-nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have agreed to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product – only 23 actually do so and many, Trump says, owe “massive amounts of money from past years.”
“Over the last eight years, the US spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined,” Trump said. “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.”
Last year, the U.S. spent 3.6 percent of its GDP on NATO – higher than any other member nation and almost twice the European target.
American presidents have complained about NATO “free-riding” since the 1970s, but this is the first time anyone has pretended to be shocked by the declaration.
The message is old. Methinks they just don’t like the messenger.