Trump Stirs More Discord, But Reaffirms Support For NATO

BRUSSELS -- President Donald Trump reaffirmed support for NATO on Thursday, but only after stirring more discord with a vague threat that the United States could go its own way if the allies resisted his demands for additional military spending, making a dramatic exit after a summit punctuated by his escalating complaints.

A year after fueling doubts about whether Washington would defend allies who refuse to pay their fair share, Trump went into the two-day summit in Brussels by berating Germany, among others. Still, by the time it was over he was ebullient, saying that European allies and Canada had "really stepped up their commitment" -- and intimating that his relentless hectoring had forced other allies to spend more than NATO's long-term goal of 2 percent of GDP on defense.

"Now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO -- much stronger than it was two days ago," Trump declared after what he described as a "fantastic meeting."

He was, however, short on details.

That's because, despite the political rhetoric, Trump -- like his other 28 allies -- signed a summit communique that had been agreed to by their ambassadors last weekend, five days before the summit began. Not a word was changed, officials confirmed.

The 23-page text did contain a reference to an old spending pledge the leaders made in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, convincing NATO of the importance of halting spending cuts. The more than 20 allies not spending 2 percent of GDP on their national military budgets pledged at the time to start investing more as their economies grew, and to move toward that goal by 2024.

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Trump Stirs More Discord, But Reaffirms Support For NATO


Trump Stirs More Discord, But Reaffirms Support For NATO