The morning after President Donald Trump met with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and refused to shake her hand, Trump took to Twitter to say that Germany owes the U.S. a “vast sum of money.”
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes…..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2017
…vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2017
Trump brought up the issue of NATO when he was campaigning for president, saying the U.S. was paying too much into the alliance and complaining that other countries who were benefiting from the treaty were not paying their fair share. He also suggested at the time that the U.S. might not defend NATO allies if more money wasn’t paid to the alliance.
According to the Independent, the U.S. is only one of five NATO members who spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Germany, meanwhile, spends 1.23 percent.
But Trump also said, via Reuters, that he thanked Merkel “for the German government’s commitment to increase defense spending and work toward contributing at least 2 percent of GDP” to the alliance.
Still, Trump apparently considers the arrangement unfair, and perhaps that’s one reason why Trump apparently pretended not to hear Merkel when she asked him if he wanted to shake hands in front of the press on Friday.
The.— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 17, 2017
Merkel: “Do you want to have a handshake?”
Trump: [crickets. scene.] pic.twitter.com/LLFxuyGDY0
Merkel said Friday that Germany has agreed to increase its NATO funding to 2 percent by 2024.
Here’s how the Washington Post characterized Trump’s characterization of how NATO is funded.
Trump said some countries owe “vast sums” in dues, which is “very unfair to the United States” — an allegation that appeared to be based on an incomplete understanding of how the alliance is funded.
Trump stated that each nation agreed to contribute 2 percent of its gross domestic product to NATO. In fact, the alliance had long ago set a goal that each member would devote at least 2 percent of GDP to defense in their own budgets.
The members contribute their capabilities to NATO, not monetary assessments. Those who haven’t reached 2 percent, which is the majority of nations, don’t “owe” or have to make up shortfalls of the past.