President Trump doesn’t limit his lies and distortions to American voters. He lies to our allies, too.
The President keeps claiming our NATO allies rip us off. Even before his first meeting with America’s NATO allies he was chewing them out for failing to pay their fair share towards defense with their “chronic underpayments”. Trump said, “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.”
That’s misleading at best, and an outright lie in the sense Trump wants his supporters to believe.
Members of NATO are required to make direct and indirect contributions to their defense. Neither is owed to the United States. Direct contributions are owed to the NATO organization. Almost all NATO members are current in their direct contributions, which are calculated under a negotiated formula.
Indirect contributions are different. They are a requirement that each NATO member spend 2.0% of its gross national product (GNP) on its own national defense. The 2.0% is aspirational, and is to be reached by 2024. Only eight of the current 28 NATO members have reached that 2.0% level; the rest are ramping up to the number.
Note that none of these nations owes money to the United States. President Trump is simply lying when he states or implies that they do. None of those allies have “chronic underpayments.”
But as Glenn Kessler explained,
Trump continues to misleadingly frame the failure to meet the guideline as money owed to the United States … But this is simply money that each country would spend on its own military — or on missions that do not include NATO, such as peacekeeping in Africa … even if all NATO members suddenly [boosted their own military spending], no additional money would end up in the U.S. Treasury.
Trump can certainly call for other countries to spend more on defense, to increase their indirect spending. But his claim that the failure to do so somehow rips off the United States is nonsense. As far as WC can tell, it’s designed to thrill his supporters and justify his “America First” posturing. The lie serves as his excuse for abandoning the alliance.
Seen in that light, a thinking American has to ask what the real reason is for Trump’s excuse for abandoning NATO. The only country that would benefit is Russia. Hmm…