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Trump doesn’t understand how NATO works financially

5/27/2017

Donald Trump appears to need a lesson on how NATO works, at least financially.  From his statements, it appears he believes that NATO sends out bills and member countries are responsible for making a payment.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.” (Trump at NATO headquarters 2/25/2017).

While there are some small payments that are made for administrative purposes, the bulk of agreed spending is on each member nation’s own military.  In 2014, members agreed to spend 2% or more of their GDP on their own military, and they have until 2024 to meet that goal.  The 2% is to their own individual military, and payments for the 2% are not made to NATO or the United States.  Currently, only five of the 28 member nations meet or exceed the goal.  The United States, as a percentage of GDP and by simple dollars, by far spends the most on its military at 3.6%.

Member nations don’t owe for back payments, or for previous shortfalls as they would only owe the money to their own military.  And despite what Trump has tweeted, money isn’t “beginning to pour in”, as there is no place for it to pour into.

Should all member nations spend a fair and equal amount on their military so that each is prepared to defend any member should the need arise?  Absolutely, but it is spending on their own military that is at issue, not past due payments to a central organization.  Since the goal has a due date of 2024, current shortfalls by any member is not unfair to the people of the United States.

What percentage of US military spending can be applied to the protection of Europe from Russian aggression is difficult to calculate.  However, it has been clear form 1945 that it has been in the United States’ best interest to keep Europe and South East Asia free from communist rule.  The United States’ alliance with NATO is critical to the security of the United States, and to the rest of the free world.

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