President Donald Trump’s critics, on both sides of the Atlantic, blasted him for comments he made at a breakfast meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels in which he said that the allies have been “delinquent” in payments towards mutual defense, and added that Germany is now the “captive” of Russia in view of a pending natural gas pipeline deal.
In response, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement denouncing the president. “President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment,” Schumer and Pelosi said in the statement. “His behavior this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the President is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies.”
The New Yorker magazine, a tireless critic of the president, published an article that asserted that the Trump had “unleashed his fury at America’s closest allies even before the NATO summit ...began on Wednesday. By the time the tumultuous two-day summit was over, the future of the world’s most powerful military alliance seemed uncertain. So, too, did the global order of the twenty-first century, given the dizzying array of disagreements that have erupted in the West over the past eighteen months on security, trade, nuclear proliferation, immigration, climate change, and regional relations.”
The article noted a headline in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, which read: “Trump at NATO Summit: It’s not just bad, it’s catastrophic.”
However, an interview by the French RTL radio news service tells a different story. General Francois Lecointre, who is the head of France’s armed forces, said on Thursday that the French army remains "very close" to the U.S. military, which recognizes French efforts in fighting Muslim terrorists in Africa. "We have unique relations with the Americans on the ground. In reality, we are very, very close," Lecointre said.
Lecointre noted that France has the second largest army in the NATO alliance after the U.S. and that his American counterparts recognize his country’s involvement in various theaters, "particularly on the African front, which is in a sorry state and which is very concerning." Currently, France has deployed approximately 4,000 troops in counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel region of West Africa. Lecointre said that that deployment has been “recognized” by the United States.
France has yet to meet the goal of spending two-percent of its GDP on defense, but plans to increase defense spending by more than 40 percent, reaching 50 billion euros in 2025.