Monday, 09 July 2018 15:20

"Craziness Becoming Strategic" - NATO Leaders In Panic Mode Ahead Of Trump Visit

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The Washington Post asks 'Will NATO survive Trump?' ahead of a summit with NATO leaders this week as bureaucrats in Brussels voice concern over his potentially disruptive 'America first' rhetoric, and as the president is set to meet with Vladimir Putin only days later in their first one-on-one meeting.

In a characteristically over-dramatic tone, WaPo answers concerning NATO leaders, "Now they’re worried about something bigger: a full crackup of the alliance, or at least such a weakening of Washington’s security commitments that NATO would emerge deeply damaged."

“It’s one thing if he goes to the G-7 and is rude to people,” a senior NATO diplomat told the Post while speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s another thing to derail NATO.”

Trump in May 2017 at NATO headquarters. Image via the AP

Among the foremost driving concerns that might "derail NATO" is the possibility that Trump could seek to mend relations with Russia and deescalate tensions when he sits down with Putin for their July 16 meeting in Helsinki, Finland. According to the Post, "European leaders worry that Trump could bargain away their security in the name of better relations with the Kremlin."

This, after Trump continued his theme in recent remarks of NATO allies "freeloading" for not paying their dues and treating the US like "schmucks" and further that NATO is "as bad as NAFTA". Lately he's repeatedly berated other member states for not living up to a 2014 pledge to reach two percent of GDP on defense by 2024 — only three European countries have reached the mark. He's expected to urge other governments of the alliance to dramatically increase military spending and lower import tariffs.

“I’m going to tell NATO: You’ve got to start paying your bills. The United States is not going to take care of everything,” Trump confidently told a rally in Montana last week. “We are the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing,” and added: “They kill us on trade.”

U.S. officials have long touted that Washington spends 70 percent of its defense budget on NATO; however, European leaders dispute this, with one senior unnamed EU official telling Reuters  "the number is more like 15 percent."

Last month Trump issued formal warnings in letters sent to leaders whose countries are not living up to their NATO defense spending pledges, saying that the US could cut them off while further questioning why Washington should spend money to protect nations it is running a trade deficit with, raising the issue of the potential for using this a bargaining chip in trade talks.

Statista: NATO's own figures show that the United States remains the defense hegemon within the organization. On the one hand, American defense spending has dropped compared to 2010, but Canada and NATO's European members taken...

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