The Atlantic

Trump vs. NATO: It's Not Just About the Money

The president’s emphasis on spending obscures a much deeper skepticism of alliances.
Source: Francois Lenoir / Reuters

On Thursday, the president of the United States threw into crisis mode the military alliance America has led since the aftermath of World War II, reportedly threatening his fellow NATO leaders in an emergency meeting that if each country didn’t start spending at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense by January, he would “do his own thing.”

“What good is NATO,” Donald Trump had asked the day before, while attending a meeting of the alliance in Brussels, if Germany is buying billions of dollars worth of gas and becoming more dependent on energy from Russia, the very country NATO is designed to deter? “The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade,” he tweeted.

But while Trump, about the money—at least not entirely. It’s fundamentally about his genuinely radical way of thinking about allies.

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