At a NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump joined other NATO leaders on Thursday at the unveiling of memorials of the September 11 attacks and the Berlin Wall with a speech that told them that European levels of defense spending are "not fair" to Americans. Trump said that he has been "very, very direct" with NATO leaders that they must increase their military spending. The present arrangement, Trump said, "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. Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined."
In a radio interview with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky enthusiastically observed the president’s statements at the NATO summit. “Absolutely, I say “Absolutely, I say Hoorah, Mr. President, good job. They need to be told that. Interestingly I saw a quote the other day that even President Obama called some of the NATO allies freeloaders for basically relying on us to do everything and pay for everything. Not only that… look at the UN we pay for 25 percent of the UN and have one vote. So yes, I do think it’s high time that allies pay more. It doesn’t have to something that makes relations worse but it should be that they are put on notice, we expect more from them. We’ll have a 500 billion dollar deficit in our country this year and a 20 trillion dollar deficit so, by all means, our allies need to pony up and pay more.”
On Twitter, Paul wrote: “We should not be subsidizing other nations.”
As NATO leaders listened, Trump said, "We remember and mourn those nearly 3,000 innocent people who were brutally murdered by terrorists on September 11th, 2001." He said, "Our NATO allies responded swiftly and decisively, invoking for the first time in its history the Article 5 collective defense commitments."
However, Trump did not pronounce a recommitment to Article 5 of the Atlantic Charter as hoped by NATO leaders. He did nod toward obligations of common defense and spoke of the “commitments that bind us together as one" while also affirming that the US "will never forsake the friends who stood by our side.”
Leaning on his experience in the construction industry, Trump took a swipe at the cost of the brand-new building where he was speaking. "I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refuse to do that," he said, thus bringing the issue out into the open. "But it is beautiful."
The second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, released a statement saying that the president "should not be lecturing our closest and most steadfast allies." Hoyer added, "I was appalled by his condescending remarks to NATO leaders today, which were an embarrassment for our country."
A flurry of comment went across the internet about a video that came out of the conference. While cameras were recording, Trump made his way through a crowd of fellow national leaders and brushed past Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic of Montenegro and positioned himself front and center for photographers. On The Root, a progressive news and opinion website that reports on issues of interest to black Americans, reporter Stephen Crockett covered the NATO summit with an article titled: "Trump shoves NATO leader, makes stupid speech and embarrasses America."
Did Trump just shove another NATO leader to be in the front of the group? pic.twitter.com/bL1r2auELd— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) May 25, 2017