Fact check: Five false claims Trump made about NATO

By Daniel Dale | CNN

For a third straight presidential election campaign, former President Donald Trump is being serially inaccurate about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance.

Trump caused a transatlantic uproar this weekend by claiming at a Saturday campaign rally that he had once told the president of a “big” NATO country that if that country didn’t pay its “bills,” he would not protect the country from a Russian invasion and would even “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump’s incendiary remarks contained a familiar false claim. His assertion about NATO allies supposedly having failed to pay “bills” is not true, as fact-checkers at CNN and elsewhere have pointed out for years.

And Trump has for years made a variety of other false claims about spending by NATO and its members. Here is a fact check of five of his repeated statements.

Spending by NATO members

Trump has long claimed that various NATO members have failed to pay their “bills,” “dues” or “NATO fees,” that they “owe us a tremendous amount of money” or that they “owe NATO billions of dollars.”

Facts First: All of these Trump claims are false. While a majority of NATO members do not meet the alliance’s target of each member spending a minimum of 2% of gross domestic product on defense, the 2% target is a “guideline” that does not create bills, debts or legal obligations if it is not met. In fact, the guideline doesn’t require payments to NATO or the US at all. Rather, it simply requires each country to spend on their own defense programs.

When Trump was president, the guideline was written in forgiving language that made clear that it was not a firm commitment. That version of the guideline, created at a NATO summit in Wales in 2014, said members that had yet to reach 2% would “aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls.” In other words, the members that were below 2% in 2014 didn’t even have to promise to hit the target by 2024 – simply to make an effort to do so by then.

NATO does require members to make direct contributions to fund the organization’s own operations. But there is no sign that members have failed to make those contributions, which constitute a tiny fraction of the allies’ defense spending, and Trump has made clear that his talk of debts is about the 2% guideline.

Stephen Saideman, the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University in Canada, said in a Monday email that the word “inaccurate really does not cover Trump’s protection racket/country club perception of dues owed to the US.”

“The money, as you and everyone else knows, is not sent from member states to the US or NATO (although there is a common fund that pays for the buildings in Brussels and elsewhere but it is not that much money and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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