President Donald J. Trump called for NATO member nations to step up and pay their “fair share” of defense spending in the fight against global terrorism.
The president made his remarks today in Brussels at the unveiling of the NATO 9/11 Memorial during a stop at the new NATO headquarters building during his first overseas trip since taking office in January.
“We remember and mourn those nearly 3,000 innocent people who were brutally murdered by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001,” Trump said. “Our NATO allies responded swiftly and decisively, invoking for the first time in its history the Article 5 collective defense commitments.”
He said the May 22 attack on Manchester, England, demonstrates “the depths of the evil we face with terrorism,” and called it a “barbaric and vicious attack upon our civilization.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack that killed at least 22 people and injured approximately 120 others, according to published reports.
POTUS Calls On NATO Nations
The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism, immigration, threats from Russia and those along NATO’s eastern and southern borders, the president said.
“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with [NATO] Secretary [General Jens] Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”
But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should for their defense, Trump said, noting, “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.”
During the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined, he said. “If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves.”
2 Percent GDP Not Sufficient
Yet, he warned, it should be recognized that with chronic underpayments and growing terrorism threats, even 2 percent of the GDP from member nations is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing, readiness and the size of forces.
“We have to make up for the many years lost. Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats,” Trump said, adding that if NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, NATO would be stronger than it is today, particularly from the threat of terrorism.
“Wherever they exist in our societies, we must drive [terrorists] out and never ever let them back in. 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,” the president said.
Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror of Manchester and many other places will continue, he said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)