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Trump did not flip-flop on NATO: He just wants deadbeat members to pay fair share

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President Trump has called himself the “law and order” POTUS. But he’ll also be happy to be known as the “bill collector.”

Trump, who had slammed NATO as “obsolete,” recently pledged his support for NATO after secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the 28 members of the alliance will finally start paying their fair share for military spending.

While liberal media have blasted Trump for “flip-flopping” on NATO, what he wanted all along was not a dissolution of NATO, but for its members to share the burdens of fighting ISIS and protecting world peace.

During a joint news conference with NATO secretary general Stoltenberg last week, Trump said he’s glad that his hard-line stance has resulted in NATO members pledging to pay their share.

But President Trump went a step further, saying he wants back payment for all the years of dues that NATO members had ignored.

“I did ask about all the money that hasn’t been paid over the years,” Trump said. “Will that money be coming back? We’ll be talking about that.”

In the 28-nation NATO alliance, total defense spending topped $900 billion in 2015. The United States paid $650 billion, or 73%, of the total budget. The figures were equally lopsided for 2014 (see graphic), and remain so to this day.

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Most NATO members haven’t paid their fair share for years. Only five NATO members — the United States, the UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia — have met the treaty’s agreement that nations spend at least 2% of their annual GDP on defense.

The United States spends about 3.6% of its GDP toward NATO defense, even though the U.S. provides most of the defense.

Trump has repeatedly said all NATO members must pay their share if they want the military alliance to continue. This statement upset some of our NATO “partners” who have become used to mooching off the U.S. But NATO secretary general Stoltenberg said Trump raised a valid point.

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“We are all seeing the effects of your strong focus on the importance of burden-sharing in the alliance [Mr. President],” Stoltenberg said. “We agree that the alliance needs to redouble their efforts to meet the pledge we all made in 2014 to invest more in our alliance.”

“This means cash, capabilities and contributions,” Stoltenberg added. “Fair burden-sharing has been my top priority since taking office. We have now turned a corner.”

Samantha Chang


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