Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Trump departs for Brussels with harsh criticism for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies

Trump departs for Brussels with harsh criticism for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies

This is a potent narrative.

Mr Tusk also said that the United States did not and would not have a better ally than the EU, reminding the president that it was European troops who had fought and died in Afghanistan after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US. Which can't be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending.

They agreed to be "guided" by "considerations" to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. The 2% goal has subsequently become the standard for judging whether allies are pulling their weight-even though meeting such spending levels would not in itself translate into useable military capabilities.

The demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 prompted a partial drawdown of USA forces from Europe, but every administration since then has concluded that keeping a U.S. military presence there was important for wider United States security, political and economic interests, and as a sign of solidarity with Europe. Stuttgart also is headquarters for US European Command.

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the talks - including in three separate tirades on Twitter on Monday and Tuesday - making the summit one of the most hard in years for the military alliance that has underpinned European security since World War II.

Yet NATO's continued ability to protect its member states and bolster global stability can not be taken for granted.

Notwithstanding Trump's grumbles about America shouldering the defense burden of Europe, his administration plans to boost spending to support it.

Direct spending may also include other "joint funding" projects that are arranged by participating North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries, but that are still overseen politically and financially by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. But the point about lecturing the allies in GDP terms is instructive.

But Sir Kim Darroch, UK ambassador to the U.S., said the president will be "an honoured guest, representing a partnership that is greater and deeper than any other in history". But the relatively unsexy, multilateral work of the alliance doesn't play to Trump's typical strengths or preferences of how to conduct foreign policy. It's too late to do anything about those facts. "The atmosphere of this meeting, between the tariffs [and pulling out of] the Iran nuclear agreement, we're not in a great environment for European countries to support what the USA wants". It would also have to be fully backed by Congress and the U.S. private and non-governmental sectors across the board.

Where Trump's intent has grown abundantly clear is the manner in which he is speaking to his supporters. "They were independent of each other".

Trump can no more change those facts than he could repeal the law of gravity.

Trump departs Tuesday on a four-nation tour amid simmering disputes over trade and military spending with fellow Western democracies and speculation about whether he will rebuke or embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Referencing Trump's impending summit with Putin, Tusk on Tuesday said, "It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend?" "While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more". Other NATO members are already pushing back, arguing that their commitment to defense is rising and they back United States priorities in other important ways. At Brussels, that means trying to minimize uncertainties generated by Trump's untamed rhetoric and quixotic behavior.

"So Congress will have to act to get the President of the United States to implement the sanctions against the man that invaded Crimea and meddled in our elections?" Yet Trump has shown the ability to lead his base wherever he wants to take it.

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