Just when you thought German chancellor Angela Merkel's visit couldn't have been any worse, it has been recently reported that President Donald Trump actually printed out an invoice for $374 billion-money Trump believes Germany owes to NATO, with interest-and handed it to Merkel during their closed doors meeting, The Sunday Times reported.
This is embarrassing for so many reasons. First, it's just plain rude to invite a guest into your home and then hand them a bill. Emily Post must have written a chapter on this somewhere.
Furthermore, this is simply not how NATO defence funding works.
According to CNN, NATO sets a target for how much countries should spend on their own defence forces, the theory being that if all NATO countries have a strong defence, it will benefit all members. Currently the target for spending is 2% of a country's gross domestic product. Germany currently spends 1.2% of GDP on defence while the United States spends 3.61%. Only the U.S., Britain, Estonia, Poland, and Greece actually exceed 2% GDP defence spending.
But 2% is merely a guideline, and the money does not go to NATO as Trump seems to believe. It just means that Germany is spending 0.8% less of its GDP on its own defence, so even if Germany technically "owes" $374 billion in defence spending, it owes those funds to Germany's armed forces, not NATO. Trump basically handed Merkel a bill stating that she owes herself money.
"The president has a very unorthodox view on NATO defence spending," a source told the Times. "The alliance is not a club with a membership fee. The commitments relate to countries' investment in their defence budgets."
Unorthodox is one way to put it. Crazy is another. It's going to be a long four years, folks.
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