Trump Fires Off Warning Letters to NATO Allies

Ahead of summit, president complains others, especially, Germany, aren't contributing enough
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2018 6:32 AM CDT
Before NATO Summit, Trump Sets Tone With Warning Letters
President Trump gestures boards Air Force One for a trip to Fargo, N.D. to attend a campaign rally, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump heads to Belgium next week for a NATO summit, and he has set the tone in advance with what the New York Times calls "sharply worded" letters to leaders of other member nations. The gist: Trump asserts that they're not paying their fair share for defense, adding that the US is tired of picking up the slack and might rethink its role in alliance. Deutsche Welle reports that Trump sent letters to at least eight leaders, but the Times says it could be a dozen. It quotes from a particularly pointed one to Germany's Angela Merkel. “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," he writes. "This is no longer sustainable for us.”

Trump adds that it will "become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries do not share NATO’s collective security burden while American soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives overseas or come home gravely wounded." Trump has long made clear he dislikes NATO, though he previously reversed his position that it was "obsolete." Specifically, the US asserts that other nations are not meeting a commitment to devote 2% of their GDP to national defense, reports CNN. Belgian leader Charles Michel says he is "not very impressed" with Trump's letter, and the Times collects a quote from a former Pentagon official: "Trump still seems to think that NATO is like a club that you owe dues to, or some sort of protection racket where the US is doing all the work protecting all these deadbeat Europeans." (The G7 summit was a little acrimonious, too.)

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