On Thursday, President Trump gave a speech to the assembled heads of government of America’s NATO allies. A good chunk of it — roughly two minutes — was devoted to hectoring them for not spending enough on their militaries.
“NATO members must finally contribute their fair share,” Trump said. “Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined.”
This was a touch awkward, given Trump’s tense relationship with the Western alliance. And you can see it when you watch the uncomfortable, pained looks on the faces of the leaders of America’s allies. Just watch this video:
*Look at their faces* and the whispering as Trump admonishes leaders over NATO financial obligations. pic.twitter.com/gLCYgKTdi3— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) May 25, 2017
Now, Trump does actually have a point here. Technically, all NATO states are supposed to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on their defense budget — but only five of NATO’s 28 members hit the target. This is an issue that past US presidents, including Barack Obama, have raised at NATO summits before.
But Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of NATO in the past two years, once threatening to not defend allies that didn’t pay enough money — something past US presidents never did, as it calls into question the foundation of the alliance itself. In this speech, Trump pointedly did not mention Article 5 — the provision of the NATO treaty that declares an attack on one to be an attack on all — underscoring the worry that his talk about not paying NATO allies’ debts creates.
You can see it on the face of French President Emmanuel Macron (left):
And a bit on British and Canadian Prime Ministers Theresa May and Justin Trudeau (right):
German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t look especially pleased either (next to Macron):
It’s just awkward, is what I’m saying.