After fueling a lot of tensions with his comments during the 2016 campaign that NATO is an obsolete alliance, President Trump today declared that the alliance is “no longer obsolete” following meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Though Trump presented this in part as NATO having capitulated to his demands for the alliance to be reorganized around fighting against ISIS, the comments will also be seen in the context of soaring tensions between the US and Russia.
NATO was, after all, designed to fight the Soviet Union, and Trump’s comments on obsolescence were in the context of his call for improved US-Russia relations. Now that he seems firmly on the side of further hostility toward Russia, it appears to shore up his view of NATO.
But while Trump offered “praise” to some extent in saying the alliance was obsolete, he continued to complain about a number of members who don’t “pay what they owe” and “meet their financial obligations,” continuing to press for all NATO members to spend at least 2% of their GDP.
Despite presenting this as an obligation, there is nothing within the rules of NATO to compel members to spend so much, and many nations have openly refused to spend 2% of their GDP, despite the Trump Administration continuing to hype that as a goal.