President boldly addresses alliance members
On his first foreign trip as President, Donald Trump scored high marks with Americans who gave him a stunning victory last November.
His trip included a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he addressed the leaders of Muslim nations telling them they must do more to rout out Islamic extremists from their communities and mosques. In Israel he met with ally Benjamin Netanyahu and visited holy sites. He also used the opportunity to make a pointed reference to the previous administration which meddled in Israel’s election in an attempt to oust President Netanyahu, saying. “America’s security partnership with Israel is stronger than ever. Under my administration, you see the difference.”
The President and First Lady and key members of his administration then met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Thursday he addressed NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) members, and spoke frankly about their obligations to “contribute their fair share” so the alliance can focus on fighting terrorism and dealing with “the grave concerns” relating to a mass migration crisis.
“The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration, as well as threats from Russia and our NATO’s eastern and southern borders,” Trump said in a speech at the new $1.2 billion NATO headquarters in Brussels.
He also told members of the NATO alliance they must finally meet their financial obligations. Referring to “chronic underpayments,” Trump said 23 of the 28 member nations are “still not paying what they should be paying for their own defense.”
The United States has borne 22% of the costs associated with defending all of the member nations. In an agreed upon cost sharing formula, at least 2% of each county’s gross domestic product is to be spent on defense. Currently, only five of the 28 member nations carrying their own weight are the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, Poland, and Estonia. Germany only pays 1.19.percent and Canada a paltry 1%. Spain spends 0.9%, as does Belgium. Most of the 28 nation alliance prefer to spend on expansive social programs.
“This is not fair to the taxpayers of the United States,” Trump stated.
The president used his NATO speech to reiterate a point he made during his Saudi Arabia visit, when he encouraged Middle Eastern allies to take on a greater role in fighting the Islamic State.
“This call for driving out terrorism is a message I took to a historic gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders across the region, hosted by Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “The leaders of the Middle East agreed at this unprecedented meeting to stop funding the radical ideology that leads to this horrible terrorism all over the globe.”
Referencing the terrorist attack in Manchester, England earlier this week as an example of the reasons why NATO as an institution must do more to combat Islamic extremism, Trump said, “The recent attack in the United Kingdom demonstrates the depths of the evil we face with terrorism. Innocent little girls and so many others were horribly murdered and badly injured while attending a concert — beautiful lives with such great potential torn from their families forever. It was a barbaric and vicious attack upon our civilization.”