During what was supposed to be a friendly photo-op breakfast meeting between NATO allies, President Donald Trump quickly turned the event into an ugly and embarrassingly awkward scene as he proceeded to openly deride America’s European allies in a bitter and condescending rant at the breakfast table.
Trump took aim at Europe’s financial contributions to the NATO alliance, claiming that they were “delinquent” on a “tremendous” financial debt to the U.S.
“In many countries, they owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them,” he said. “So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you just add it all up, it’s massive amounts of money is owed, the United States has paid, and stepped up like nobody.”
During his tirade, Trump also targeted Germany noting the country’s energy deals with Russia, while openly stating on several occasions that the Germans were entirely beholden to the Russians. He also implied that the Germans were deceitful in asking the United States to pay for their defense while undermining their defense by giving Russia influence.
“Germany is totally controlled by Russia,” he said.
Trump’s claim that Germany gets 60 to 70 percent of its energy from Russia was so far off base that other leaders in the room had to stifle themselves. The true number is around nine percent.
Of course, nothing that Trump said was true. NATO funding doesn’t work at all the way Trump describes and claiming that America has been “paying” for the defense of other countries when the vast majority of the money that counts toward our contribution to NATO goes to our own defense — all but a tiny fraction, in fact — is a complete redefinition of what NATO even is. No NATO country “owes” any other country a debt for defense, and if anyone did, it would be the United States, as the only nation that has ever even invoked Article 5 to call other countries to its aid.
During the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Strolenberg tried and failed to bring the conversation back to civil discourse by noting that NATO members generally get along despite their disagreements. He also complimented Trump’s leadership and recognized that he’s been instrumental in increasing financial contributions to NATO from EU nations. However, Trump decided to continue taking the low road, further berating the Europeans.
Trump emphasized that the fiscal imbalance was a long-standing issue, arguing:
“This has gone on for decades, by the way. For many presidents,” he said. “But no other president brought it up like I bring it up.”
But even if Trump’s successful in making the Europeans temporarily capitulate to most or all of his demands, his shortsighted hostility will leave a lasting stain on the U.S. diplomatic relations. These actions could also very well come back to haunt us down the road after our E.U allies have figured out ways to slowly phase out U.S influence within their region and rely more heavily on its other international partners.
America once tried to isolationism in the 1930’s in which it suffered a “Great Depression” and nearly collapsed. With Trump, we run the risk of repeating history if his ignorance isn’t checked.
Featured image via YouTube