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NYT Admits “Trump Got From NATO Everything Obama Ever Asked For”

Trump Got From NATO Everything Obama Ever Asked For

It begins:

Now that the smoke has cleared from the NATO summit meeting, the most tangible result is apparent: President Trump advanced President Barack Obama’s initiative to keep the allies on track to shoulder a more equitable share of NATO’s costs. Mr. Trump even signed on to a tough statement directed at Russia. For once he saw eye to eye with his predecessor. –New York Times

To be sure, the Times dings Trump for bruising a few EU egos (while making his Chief of Staff John Kelly cringe during a particularly blunt public excoriation of Germany), and they rebuke the President for suggesting the US might withdraw from NATO if military spending targets aren’t met by member nations. At the end of the day, however, the New York Times just gave President Trump massive credit for achieving significant progress on a longstanding dispute over fairness and commitments.

Trump Got From NATO Everything Obama Ever Asked For

But alliance members leave Brussels bruised and confused.

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

Now that the smoke has cleared from the NATO summit meeting, the most tangible result is apparent: President Trump advanced President Barack Obama’s initiative to keep the allies on track to shoulder a more equitable share of NATO’s costs. Mr. Trump even signed on to a tough statement directed at Russia. For once he saw eye to eye with his predecessor.

Yet whether Mr. Trump himself is clear about the strategy he’s pursuing, or whether he in fact has one, remains as mysterious as ever.

Mr. Obama persuaded NATO leaders to increase their military spending at a meeting in Wales in 2014, after a newly aggressive Russia invaded Ukraine. Back then, alliance members pledged to work toward raising spending levels to 2 percent of their gross domestic products by 2024. All 29 allies have begun to increase their military budgets in real terms, and two-thirds of them have plans to reach the 2 percent target by 2024. And they reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment” to these targets in the communiqué issued at the end of the two-day summit in Brussels this week.

Of course, two days of gratuitous and self-defeating Trump bombast and threats preceded this resolution.

The president publicly browbeat and insulted allies as deadbeats taking advantage of American generosity. He then raised the ante, demanding that they meet the 2 percent target — it’s a target, not some specific legal obligation — by January and then go on to raise spending to 4 percent of G.D.P. Why that much? What strategic objective, what threats to the alliance, is Mr. Trump worried about? He didn’t say.

Since he came into office, Mr. Trump’s urging has gotten some allies to accelerate spending increases. The response to his latest remonstrations, though, was mainly  bafflement. Even after a military spending increase under President Trump, American military spending is only 3.2 percent of G.D.P. this year. What’s more, it’s expected to fall to 2.8 percent in 2024, leaving it unclear as to how even the United States would meet the 4 percent figure.

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