President Donald Trump on Thursday ripped into NATO member countries for their failure to meet financial commitments to the alliance. The 45th POTUS then declined to reiterate US commitment to the alliance’s mutual defense pledge.
“Members of the alliance must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations,” Trump told the heads of state who looked uncomfortable as they sat behind Trump.
“Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” he said.
Trump has yet to talk about the United States own commitment to Article 5 of NATO’s mutual defense provision.
The President’s scolding was given against the freshly unveiled 9/11 memorial, which marks the only time the NATO alliance has invoked Article 5. It was that attack on the U.S. which triggered NATO’s agreement to join the war in the Middle East.
During his campaign, Trump hinted that the United States may only protect NATO members who “fulfill their obligations to us.”
Trump only addressed Article 5 in passing, stating that “our NATO allies responded swiftly and decisively, invoking for the first time in its history the Article 5 collective defense commitments.”
Trump then attacked heads of state within the alliance, demanding they meet their commitment to provide 2% of their GDP to defense spending. Only five of the alliance’s 28 members currently meet the mark.
“Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats,” 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.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “of course we support Article 5,” but stopped short of making any promises on behalf of Trump’s commitment to NATO.