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Trump tells NATO members they must pick up defense costs

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Republished with permission by Knowhere News

US President Donald Trump has sent reportedly sharp letters to several NATO member nations, ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels, urging them to spend more on their military defense. In letters reportedly sent to the leaders of countries such as Canada, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands, Trump accused the allies of “underspending” on their national defense and warned that the United States may soon change its stance on NATO. “The United States continues to devote more resources to the defense of Europe when the continent’s economy, including Germany’s, are doing well and security challenges abound. This is no longer sustainable for us,” Trump wrote to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to the New York Times.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a staunch NATO supporter, has nevertheless echoed the US president, warning his British counterpart in a letter June 12 that the UK’s special relationship as the US’s closest ally might change if it does not “fully fund” its defense programs.

Trump’s letter to new Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez reminded him of his predecessor’s promise to raise the country’s defense spending, reports El País. Trump urged Spain to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, about half of what it is now. That letter is similar to letters Trump sent to eight other countries who spend less than 2 percent of their GDP on military defense.

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Some European leaders have been less than charmed at Trump’s pressure campaign, making for potential friction at the upcoming summit. Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, told reporters he was not impressed by Trump’s letters. It should be noted that Trump reportedly reserved some of his boldest criticisms for the letter to Belgium.

Former President Barack Obama also referred to the fact that the United States spends more than other NATO countries. Obama said while president that the US spends more on defense “than the next eight nations” put together. According to the The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPR), a think tank that reports on defense spending, Obama’s statement was more-or-less accurate.

By this most recent January, eight of the 29 NATO members had either met or were close to meeting the 2 percent mark, while six others presented plans to reach that goal by 2024, and two had said they would not meet the threshold but would still increase defense spending, Foreign Policy reported. The remaining members spend markedly less than the US in terms of GDP percentage.

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