Trump tells NATO nations to raise defense spending to 4% of GDP

President Trump further roiled European leaders Wednesday's in Brussels with a demand that NATO members aim to spend 4% of GDP on defense--even though 23 of the alliance's 28 members don't even meet the current 2% goal.
By Rick Docksai | Jul 12, 2018
President Trump ended his first day at the NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday by demanding that members aim to spend at least 4% of GDP on defense, up from the current official goal of 2%. Trump abruptly left the meeting without taking questions.

NATO currently asks its members to spend 2% of GDP on defense, and only five of them currently meet this goal: The United States, whose defense spending is 3.6% of GDP; and Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom, and Poland, whose spending is respectively 2.2%, 2.14%, 2.1%, and 2% of GDP. Germany is working toward reaching the 2% goal by 2030 but now spends only 1.2%, while France's defense expenditures stand at 1.8%.

"President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and, at a very minimum, meet their already stated obligations," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Trump slammed the disparity between the United States' defense spending levels and those of the European member nations in a tense breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary Jans Stoltenberg. He told Stoltenberg that Germany's plan to hit 2% by 2030 is not good enough, as "they could do it tomorrow." He also attacked Germany's discussions with Russia about building the Nord Stream 2, a new oil pipeline to bring more Russian gas to Europe, as "inappropriate" and undermining U.S. efforts to protect Europe.

No journalists were permitted during the day's session, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister Teresa May also attended. But Bulgarian President Ruman Radev, who was in the room, confirmed that Trump raised the issue of dedense spending. Radev also said that Trump "just left after he announced that."

Even the United States falls short of 4%, however. NATO data released Tuesday reports that U.S. defense spending in 2018 will be only 3.5% of GDP, down from 3.57% last year.

 

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