March 19, 2017
The pleasantries, lack of handshake between Trump and Merkel notwithstanding, are officially over.
One day after Trump returned to his favorite medium to slam Germany for abusing NATO’s funding scheme, and US defense spending generosity, accusing Germany of owing “vast sums” of money to both NATO and the US, Germany has struck back. As a reminder, this is what Trump tweeted on Saturday morning:
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 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!
That in turn, was followed on Sunday morning by a statement by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in which she responded to Trump, rejecting the US president’s claim: “There is no debit account at NATO,” von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance’s target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO.
“Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism,” von der Leyen said. The defense minister added that everyone wanted the burden to be shared fairly and for that to happen it was necessary to have a “modern security concept” that included a modern NATO but also a European defense union and investment in the United Nations.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Before taking office, Trump suggested that the U.S. might not come to the defense of allies who didn’t meet the 2 percent spending goal, and said the coalition doesn’t always best serve American interests. But U.S. officials have publicly praised the alliance since Trump took office, and Merkel is among European leaders who have outlined steps to…