Trump's Meeting at NATO Was Cordial and Contentious (VIDEO)

President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pause for a moment of silence to honor the victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester, Thursday, May 25, 2017, during a ceremony to unveil artifacts from the World Trade Center and Berlin Wall for the new NATO headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump met with fellow NATO leaders Thursday in Brussels and, according to reports, the atmosphere was a little chilly. Let me use the tweet storm by former US NATO ambassador, Ivo Daalder as a point of departure.



These are my thoughts.

First, not stressing Article 5 is a major missed opportunity. The Baltic States and Poland are really interested in the mutual defense part of the Treaty and they are putting their necks on the chopping block by hosting US armored forces and building up their internal defense capacity. Both Estonia and Latvia have very large ethnic Russian populations and they are afraid the same thing will happen to them that happened to Ukraine if there is no US skin in the game.

Pushing the NATO allies, particularly Germany, on defense spending was the right thing to do. They might not have liked to hear it but they needed to hear it. Reaching a 2006 spending target in 2024 is not a major commitment to European defense by Europeans.


Trump should have talked Russia because Russia was the 800-lb gorilla in the corner at the NATO meeting but Trump was right to talk about things like terrorism and immigration which are the major real-world threats facing NATO. Both of those factors are inextricably linked to the Russian ability to make mischief.

Overall, this was a subpar performance. I think he hit on differences when he could have focused on commonalities and he did little to dispel the anxiety that his campaign rhetoric caused in Eastern Europe.


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