After railing against NATO countries not contributing their required 2% for the better part of a year, President Donald Trump has moved the goal post to 4%, according to Bloomberg.
Trump told the 29 leaders of the transatlantic alliance they needed to up their defense spending to 4% of their nations' GDP, to counter some in the alliance's "free rider" status. But here's the rub: Many of those free rider countries are on track to up their spending to the required 2%, and oh by the way, the U.S. doesn't even spend 4%.
The U.S. spends 3.5% of its GDP on defense, according to the official figures from NATO.
But what is this all about, really? Is Trump nickel-and-diming our allies because, in his view, the U.S. is getting ripped off? What are we actually getting for contributing so much to this collective defense arrangement?
As Kori Schake put it in a brilliant essay for The New York Times, quite a lot:
Contrary to the president’s core complaint, the American-led order isn’t that expensive, especially as compared with the alternatives. About 40 percent of America’s gross domestic product was allocated to the military during World War II. It now stands at less than 4 percent — not an unreasonable price for a tried-and-true insurance policy.
The president and his fellow critics argue that if America does less, others will do more — that its largess facilitates free riders. That hasn’t proved true with its closest friends: Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the United States has reduced its military forces in Europe by about 85 percent. But Europeans have even more significantly cut their defense spending, and become more tentative about the use of military force. Far from emboldening allies, the American drawdown has made them less likely to act.
Besides continuing to rail against an international order that has held firm for 70 years, Trump went so far as to say "Germany is totally controlled by Russia" — a ludicrous statement that brought forth some interesting facial expressions from others in the room, including former Gen. John Kelly and lifelong Republican Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison:
Following the NATO summit, Trump is heading to a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is no doubt smiling ear-to-ear over the disastrous state of affairs between the U.S. and its closest allies at this moment.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005
Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.
Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"