US And Germany Spat Over NATO

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington: The two countries, US and Germany, had heated exchanges over the week about “vast sums” that Donald Trump claimed Germany owes to NATO and the US.

In the press conference after the meeting with Germany Chancellor Angelo Markel, President Donald Trump hadn’t said much about the meeting. The body language of both the leaders was not genial. Trump later tweeted that the meeting went well and brought up the debt Germany owed to NATO and the US, pulling no punches.

Germany has rejected the claim. Its Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said, “there is no debt account at NATO.” She said it was wrong to set target for members to spend two percent of their economic output on defense to NATO by 2024.

The US has been rethinking its involvement in NATO. The military alliance was established to defend US allies from the then Soviet Union, but with changing circumstances and friendly relations between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin thus far make NATO less relevant for the US.

Donald Trump was critical of NATO during his presidential campaign. He said many times that NATO has to be restructured. NATO is irrelevant to the present dangers of terrorism. The alliance is “obsolete,” he said.

“We are protecting Europe with NATO, but we are spending a lot of money,” he said in an interview to Washington Post.

The US pays 22 percent toward the direct spending by NATO. Trump has said NATO “is costing us a fortune.” Recently when Vice President Mike Pence visited Europe he said as much. Pence said that the US would be a part of NATO, but the members have to take equal responsibility.

Now a 28-member alliance, NATO has expanded over a period to defend itself from the aggression of Soviet Union, but after the Soviet Union collapse the alliance has shifted its focus to a range of other missions like terrorism in Afghanistan to human trafficking.

The US argues that the European countries have to spend more money toward their defense and become less dependent on her.

The European Union defense program has recently increased its defense funding, reversing the trend of defense cuttings and sending a signal to the US that it wants to pay for its own security.

The EU, Germany being the face of it after Brexit, has bought new helicopters and planes. The commission said that it had to increase its military budget to defend itself from increasing threats.

Trump’s criticisms of NATO, the alliance basically formed to defend its countries from Russia, have raised concerns in European countries. The uncertainty of President Trump over this issue will force the European countries to find alternatives and not to depend completely on NATO.

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