April 14, 2017

The U.K -based publication, The Times, reported that Trump handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel a bill in the amount of $300 million (277.6 million euros), for Berlin’s failure to adhere to the 2 percent of GDP NATO defense spending target contribution. The Times, citing an unnamed source, claims Trump chided Germany, among other allies, for failing to spend enough money on the defense which he further claims forces the United States to carry the burden financially and logistically.

The German Chancellor, who reportedly received the bill during a private meeting in Washington, calmly dismissed the bill, with one German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen describing the bill as “outrageous.”

The minister further stated that “the concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.”

“The president has a very unorthodox view on NATO defense spending. The alliance is not a club with a membership fee, “ according to another anonymous source cited in The Times article. They further commented that “The commitments relate to countries’ investment in their defense budgets.”

When asked about the incident, White House spokesman Michael Short flat out denied the allegations, telling CNBC and other media outlets that the report was “false.”

In 2014, NATO countries formed a commitment that each country would invest 2 percent of their GDP in order to fund global defense. On record, only the U.S., Greece, Poland, Britain and Estonia have contributed the amount agreed upon, with Germany being one of the number of countries failing to sufficiently carry their portion of military spending.

Deutsche Welle reports that Trump insists that Washington is owed money for the protection it provides to NATO countries who rely on the defense provided by America for protection.

Trump has not refrained from issuing reprimands against Europe in the effort to convince the country to fulfill NATO’s trans-Atlantic alliance obligations.  In fact, President Trump posted a tweet, just a while after his meeting with  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, claiming that “vast sums of money” was owed by Germany to the alliance and that “the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” Trump has repeatedly claimed that America is forced to cover the reluctant countries’  financial debt.

Reportedly, President Trump made a request to White House aides to calculate the difference between NATO’s 2 percent GDP target commitment from 2002 and Berlin’s actual defense spending in order to determine the amount that is owed. That total amount is reportedly in addition to interest Trump is charging for Germany’s failure to adhere to their previous commitment, pledged by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

Before The Times article was published, The Washington Post had previously released an article that discussed President Trump’s knowledge of NATO operations, reporting that before his inauguration, Trump declared that NATO was “obsolete” and further congratulating himself for persuading European members of NATO to “pay the bills.” This article further explores Trump’s knowledge, or lack thereof, in regards to NATO and how the alliance is formulated and operates.

In response to President Donald Trumps’ tweets aimed at the German Chancellor, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen rebuked, stating that “There is no debt account in NATO,” insisting that Trump does not understand how the trans-Atlantic alliance operates. The former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, further rebuked Trumps’ assertions by issuing a series of tweets, aimed at the President.

“1/ Sorry, Mr. President, that’s not how NATO works. The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO.

2/ This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.

3/ All NATO countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. So far 5 of 28 NATO countries do.

4/ Those who currently don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing.

5/ But no funds will be paid to the US. They are meant to increase NATO’s overall defense capabilities, given the growing Russian threat.

6/ Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

Before The Times article was published, The Washington Post published an article that questioned Trump’s knowledge, or lack thereof, in regards to NATO and how the alliance is formulated and operates. The article discussed President Trump’s knowledge of NATO operations, reporting that before his inauguration, Trump declared that NATO was “obsolete” and further congratulating himself for persuading European members of NATO to “pay the bills.”

“The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations,” the German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said in order to conclude the matter.

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