July 12, 2018
Leading up to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels this week (July 1-12), U.S. President Donald has left America’s “special relationship” with its European allies in doubt.
In June, the POTUS wrote harsh letters to the leaders of several NATO allies—among them, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Norway— taking them to task for spending too little on their own defense and warning that the United States is losing patience with what he said was their failure to meet security obligations shared by the alliance, Axios reported.
“Trump still seems to think that NATO is like a club that you owe dues to, or some sort of protection racket where the U.S. is doing all the work protecting all these deadbeat Europeans while they’re sitting around on vacation, and now he is suggesting there are consequences,” Derek Chollet, a former U.S. Defense Department official who is the EVP for Security and Defense Policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States told The New York Times.
“Europeans have been watching Donald Trump begin to implement his rhetoric on trade in ways that are very combative,” he said, “and they’re starting to contemplate whether he would do this regarding security issues, as well.”
According to poll findings by Pew Research Center, the American public does not necessarily agree with its president. About six-in-ten Americans (62%) had a favorable opinion of NATO in a 2017 Pew Research survey of the United States. and 11 other member countries.
Across all 12 NATO member countries included in the 2017 survey, a median of 61% approved of the alliance, including a majority of respondents in every country except Spain, Greece and Turkey. In the Netherlands and Poland, roughly eight-in-ten (79%) said they have a positive view of NATO.
According to Axios, European Council President Donald Tusk directly addressed President Trump on the eve of Wednesday’s NATO summit, warning the United States to “appreciate your allies; after all you don’t have that many.”
“Dear Mr. President: Please remember about this tomorrow, when we meet at the NATO summit, but above all, when you meet President Putin in Helsinki,” Tusk said. “ It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend? And who is your strategic problem?”
Senior European officials told Axios’ National Political Reporter Jonathan Swan that they’re worried Trump will spend the NATO summit beating up on European allies for not spending enough on defense. In his remarks, Tusk acknowledged that Europe should spend more, but emphasized that “genuine solidarity” is most important.
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