Donald Trump delivered a speech at NATO headquarters that was received by visible apprehension amongst fellow heads of state.
The main portion of Trump’s speech dealt with the fact that few NATO members pay the required 2% of GDP to the alliance and that even so, this was realistically too little to make NATO an effective anti-terrorist force.
Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron looked particularly disturbed by these remarks. At the moment, the only countries apart from the US which spend at least 2% of their GDP on NATOs’ budget are the UK, Poland, Greece and Estonia. Trump rebuked European states for forcing US taxpayers to shoulder the majority of NATO’s financial burden.
While NATO, an alliance built to fight the Soviet Union, appears to be totally obsolete (as Trump once said) in respect of its ability to meet modern challenges, he nevertheless effectively pulled a Steve McQueen moment. It was a classic case of American straight talking style exceptionalism, meets what can only be described as snickering, holier than thou European exceptionalism.
The fact that Donald Trump mentioned Russia as a ‘threat’, ought to be understood as reading from the NATO hymn sheet, his more important remarks were directed at European NATO members themselves. It was a ‘selling point’ rather than a substantive point. In other words, ‘if you’re worried about Russia, put your money with your mouths are’.
Whether Saudi Arabia or Europe, for Trump, foreign policy is more about money than ideology.