NATO Allies Push Back After Trump Scolds Them on Defense Budgets

NATO Allies Push Back After Trump Scolds Them on Defense Budgets (excerpt)

(Source: Bloomberg News; published July 03, 2018)

By Gregory Viscusi and Josh Wingrove

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has written to the defense ministers of all NATO countries to ask them to increase their defense spending, but his letter to UK defense Secretary Gavin Williamson is particularly stern. (Internet image)

European nations and Canada pushed back against accusations they don’t spend enough on defense after receiving a scolding from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump, who travels to Brussels next week to attend a potentially testy North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, sent letters to several allied nations calling on them to increase their military budgets.

“It will become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments,” Trump said in a letter addressed to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg seen by Bloomberg News. Norway, he wrote, “remains the only NATO ally sharing a border with Russia that lacks a credible plan to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.”

Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and Spain also confirmed receiving a version of the letter. The New York Times, in a report Tuesday, said it was sent to Belgium, Luxembourg and Portugal too. One NATO country government official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the July 11-12 summit, said they understood that all members of the bloc received a letter.

At a NATO leaders’ meeting in May 2017, Trump refused to offer an explicit endorsement of the alliance’s collective-defense clause and instead hectored fellow leaders to meet the 2 percent target. Concern is running high in many European capitals over the outcome of this year’s summit after Trump last month revoked his endorsement of a Group of Seven communique praising free trade, insulted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then scheduled a July 16 meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg News website.


U.S. Includes Main Ally Britain In Letters Demanding Higher Defense Spending (excerpt)

(Source: Reuters; published July 3, 2018)

BRUSSELS --- The Trump administration has included Britain, Washington’s most loyal battlefield ally in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among countries being sent letters rebuking them for spending too little on their militaries.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis threatened to replace Britain with France as its main military ally unless London ramps up its defense spending, in a letter sent on June 12 and reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.

The strongly-worded letter from Mattis to Britain’s Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson noted that Britain was one of the few NATO allies that already meets the alliance’s target of spending 2 percent of economic output on the military.

But it said that was not good enough. Britain’s global role “will require a level of defense spending beyond what we would expect from allies with only regional interests,” Mattis wrote.

“I am concerned that your ability to continue to provide this critical military foundation ... is at risk of erosion,” he wrote. He asked for a “clear and fully funded, forward defense blueprint” from Britain, and said he hoped for an update at a NATO summit next week. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.


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