Article 5 of the charter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) says if any member nation is attacked, it will be considered an attack on all of them, and they will all respond to that attack. This article has only been invoked one time in the history of NATO -- after the terrorist attack on New York City on 9/11. All the NATO nations joined the United States in sending troops to fight in Afghanistan (and those nations all lost soldiers defending the United States).
One would expect a leader of the United States to appreciate this. Unfortunately, we now have an ignorant and incompetent leader who doesn't know or respect the history of NATO -- or its value in protecting the free world. Upon taking office, Donald Trump almost immediately attacked NATO, berating the NATO nations for not spending enough money (the only thing he has ever cared about) and even suggesting he might withdraw from NATO.
As late as last week, Trump suggested that the United States gets nothing from NATO (forgetting their response to 9/11), leaving the impression that the U.S. would be better off leaving NATO. This left the NATO nations wondering what would happen when it held its meeting on July 11th and 12th. They were right to be nervous, because Donald Trump wasted no time attacking. His first attack was directed at Germany.
Here's how The Guardian reported it:
At his first meeting of the summit, with the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, Trump described the relationship between Germany and Russiaas “inappropriate”.
Nato officials had been nervously awaiting the first meeting as an indicator of how Trump – who arrived in Brussels on Tuesday night – would behave over the next two days. Within minutes they had their answer.
This summit is shaping up to be the most divisive in Nato’s 69-year history. Normally, Nato summits are mostly fixed in advance and proceed in an orderly fashion. Trump’s first words signalled this one was not going to be like that.
He complained that German politicians had been working for Russian energy companies after leaving politics and said this too was inappropriate. Germany was totally controlled by Russia, Trump said.
With Stoltenberg looking on uncomfortably throughout, the US president was unrelenting. “I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia,” Trump said. “We are supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions dollars a year to Russia.
“We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate.”
He added: “It should never have been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting 60-70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.
“You tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not. On top of that Germany is just paying just a little bit over 1% [of GDP on Nato defence contributions] whereas the United States is paying 4.2% of a much larger GDP. So I think that’s inappropriate also.”
His comments were linked to his push for other European countries – particularly Germany – to pay more for Nato’s defence needs.
“I think it is unfair,” Trump said. Other US presidents had raised the matter of European defence spending levels in the past but he was intent on dealing with it, he continued. “We can’t put up with it.”