President Donald Trump, in classic bold Trump fashion, handed Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, an invoice for $370 billion for monies owed NATO — plus interest.
The president’s message was blunt: Pay up.
Trump reportedly had aides draw up the bill, which represents money Germany owes the international body from as far back as 2002. The total also represents interest.
And Trump presented Merkel with the invoice during a private get-together.
From the Times of Israel:
“A German government minister responded to the invoice, saying that Merkel was not intimidated by it.
“‘The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side,’ the unnamed minister said, ‘but the Chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.’”
Trump, while on the campaign trail, chided those countries he thought were unfairly skipping out on their payments to NATO. And he said one U.S. response might be to pull back on honoring American commitments to the body.
From the Times of Israel again:
“In his first interview after winning the nomination, in July 2016, Trump doubled down on his warning that the US might not meet its mutual defense obligations in NATO under his presidency — if he deemed that a member state was not pulling its weight financially.
“After his meeting with Merkel, Trump tweeted that Germany owed vast sums of money to the US for defense.
“‘Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,’ he tweeted. ‘Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!’”
…vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 18, 2017
German authorities, meanwhile, jumped to Merkel’s defense, saying Trump doesn’t understand how NATO works, and that it’s up to each country to decide what its own financial obligations to the body will be, based on budget concerns.
But as the Times of Israel reminded:
“Germany, along with all NATO countries, agreed in 2014 to spend two percent of its GPD on defense. However, of the 28 countries that make up the organization only a few, including the US and UK, spend that amount. Germany currently spends 1.23 percent of its GDP on defense, although that percentage is increasing.”