Trump NATO WTF
After lobbing some rhetorical grenades into the NATO summit yesterday, Donald Trump concluded the first phase of his Piss Off America's Allies Tour with another morning meeting in which he may or may not have threatened to pull America out of the alliance and again badgered other NATO countries to increase their defense spending, after arriving 30 minutes late and missing two meetings with heads of state entirely. Then he held a press conference and bragged the other leaders all love him and agree with him, so he won't have to unilaterally abandon NATO, but he totally could if he wanted to. As he jetted off to Merrie Olde Englande to ignore all the boomboxes playing "American Idiot," other leaders offered their very diplomatic statements about what President Fussytoddler and everyone else actually said, which of course wasn't what Trump said he said.
During the closed-door meeting, Trump reportedly insisted that it wouldn't be good enough for other NATO countries to meet their existing commitments to spend two percent of GDP on defense by 2024. No, they'd have to meet the goal by the end of this year, or, Trump said, he'd "do his own thing," which some in the meeting considered a threat to leave NATO, but others didn't. It's entirely possible they were simply unfamiliar with the modern hippie jargon Trump used, and that they were equally unprepared for his threat to tune in, turn on, and drop out.
At a presser held before he departed, Trump said he had wrung a commitment from the other leaders to increase their military spending well above even the current two percent target:
"I told people that I'd be very unhappy if they did not up their commitments very substantially," Trump told reporters after the meeting. "Everyone's agreed to substantially up their commitment. They are going to up it at levels never thought of before" [...]
"Ultimately, that will be going up quite a bit higher than that," Trump said at the news conference, after privately calling Wednesday on leaders to double their commitments to 4 percent of gross domestic product.
Not surprisingly, no other leaders have yet confirmed a bit of that. Props to the diplomatic vagueness of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who offered this delightfully detail-free comment to reporters after Trump traipsed off to Air Force One with a long streamer of toilet paper stuck to his shoe (at least in our heads):
"All allies have heard President Trump's message loud and clear."
We understand that this American president is very serious about defense spending, and this is having a clear impact," Stoltenberg said. "After years of decline, when allies were cutting billions, now they are adding billions. Before, the trend was down; now, the trend is up."
Translation: Man, that guy says a lot of shit, and we heard it, and by the way NATO countries have been increasing their military spending since Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
French President Emmanuel Macron was a bit more blunt about things, very diplomatically calling Trump a liar. Macron denied anyone had agreed to defense spending increases over two percent of GDP:
"There is a communique that was published yesterday. It's very detailed [...] It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024. That's all."
Macron added that he didn't get the sense Trump had threatened to leave the alliance at all. During the post-meeting presser, a reporter asked Trump if he had the authority to pull the USA out of NATO without congressional approval. The Great Man explained, sure, but now he won't have to because he is so beloved by all:
"I think I probably can, but that's unnecessary." He added: "The people have stepped up today" as they never have before. "Everyone in the room thanked me. There was a great collegial spirit in that room. . . . Very unified, very strong. No problem."
Trump apparently ran out of space in his central processing unit, since he soon began pulling lines from previous statements out of his cache, if you know what we mean. He said NATO is strong like bull, and "a fine-tuned machine" -- just as he's described his White House, a comparison that ought to scare anyone. A reporter asked if he'd trash the allies once he was in flight, as he attacked Canada after the G-7, and he said that wouldn't happen because he's "a very stable genius." Yes, he said it again, because it went over so well the first time.
And of course, when asked if he'd recognize Crimea as part of Russia, he punted, instead pointing out Obama was in office at the time, so if he does recognize the military takeover, that would totally be on Obama:
"Well that's an interesting question because long before I got here, President Obama allowed that to happen. That was on his watch, not on my watch. You know, people like to say, 'Oh, Crimea.' But the fact is, they built the bridges to Crimea. They just opened a big bridge that was started years ago. They built, I think, a submarine port substantially added billions of dollars. So, that was on Barack Obama's watch. That was not on Trump's watch. Would I have allowed it to happen? No. I would not have allowed it to happen. But he did allow it to happen, so that was his determination. What will happen with Crimea from this point on, that I can't tell you, but I'm not happy about Crimea, but again, that was Barack Obama's watch, not Trump's watch."
In other words, look at all the lovely things the Russians have done, and really, haven't they brightened the place up? Wouldn't ask them to abandon it, especially since it was all on Obama's watch.
Trump closed with some very wise words about Africa, in response to a reporter from Tunisia who said she admires "what you've done in North Africa," then pivoted to a question about how Trump intends to promote peace in the Middle East, with a "just peace process for everyone -- "
Before she could say "Palestinians," Trump jumped in and answered some question she hadn't even asked, because all he heard was "peace" and Africa":
We're looking for peace, and Africa, as you know, is -- on our very strong list. But we're looking for peace. We want peace all over. We want to solve problems. We're looking for -- peace.
Africa right now has got problems like few people would understand. They have things going on there that nobody could believe in this room, if you saw some of the things that I see through intelligence – what's going on in Africa – it is so sad, it is so vicious and violent – and we want peace. We want peace for Africa.
We want peace all over the world. That's my number one goal – peace all over the world and we are building up a tremendous military because I really believe through strength you get peace. But, we re going to have a military like we never had before. We've given out orders for the best fighter jets in the world, the best ships, the best everything. But -- hopefully we'll never have to use them, that would be a dream. To buy the best stuff, to have the best stuff, to have the best equipment in the world and to never have to use it, would be a really great part of my dream.
We've broken that into paragraphs, but it was really just all one stream of stupid; Trump then ended the press conference and took to his plane, no doubt certain in the knowledge his last answer would be remembered as inspiring and John Fitzgerald Reaganesque. While that streamer of toilet paper bobbed along behind him in the breeze (are you sure that isn't in any of the videos? We swear that's how we remember it).
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.