The Trump-ification of NATO


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was originally established for the purpose of having a unified military force to stand in the way of the Soviet Union. Today, the alliance remains relevant with the existence of non-Soviet threats, such as terrorism, human trafficking, and general danger from tyrannical regimes. The organization has not realized its full potential in recent history but US President Donald Trump might be the man to change that.

There’s nothing wrong with President Trump’s approach of prioritizing mutual benefit and equality when it comes to brokering deals and negotiation. The United States of America is in fact the strongest nation on the planet, but that does not mean that it is obligated to restrict its trade potentials for the sake of compassion toward allies. The US president, and author of The Art of the Deal, is doing what he promised he’d do during the election season: America First. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It becomes a problem when that ideology is abused, as we witnessed with the treatment of asylum-seekers and their children entering from south of the border. However, President Trump was quick to reverse that inhumane mistake. But trade is trade, and he’s been clear. If I can’t bargain, I want out.

In 2006, an agreement was reached between NATO’s member states, granting each nation the responsibility of contributing 2 percent of its GDP toward military expenditure. Today, only five NATO nations fulfill that responsibility. And with Donald Trump in the White House, the slacking members ought to get serious.

President Trump walked into last week’s summit in Brussels with much-needed solemnity. His “get down to business” attitude is more valuable than one might think. The majority of NATO members have been neglecting the 2 percent commitment, brushing it off to the side as a future task to deal with. However, after Trump’s explicit message at this year’s NATO Summit, rest assured that those members will speed it up and hit 2 percent ASAP. It’s only fair that they do so. With the growing GDP of the United States of America and their nearly 4 percent contribution, President Trump will not allow his nation to further feed the North Atlantic Alliance, while other members sit on the sidelines delaying their 2 percent commitment. The US president wants sufficient mutual benefit, and he’ll continue to make sure his intergovernmental deals and alliances are conducted with fairness.

Particularly, the Trump-ification showed no mercy toward Germany. The US president made rightful claims criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government’s foreign policy. The fact that Germany has an ongoing multibillion-dollar energy deal with Russia is mind boggling, considering the Germans are well-below the 2 percent NATO contribution meant to help protect them from Russian threats. So, while the United States offers its growing military might to protect Europe from Russia, Germany continues to under-invest in military and over-invest in Russian energy. Merkel is indeed losing popularity within her own borders, and seriously needs to repair German foreign policy.

As President Trump later met with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki, he knew that he entered the meeting with the upper hand of having just solidified a stronger NATO and fitter US-UK relationship. There’s no doubt that this aided his performance dealing with President Putin.

With just over two years remaining in President Trump’s first term, we’ll have to wait and see whether or not his strict approach toward NATO pays off.

— The writer is a young Saudi political analyst who specializes in foreign affairs and protocol. He can be reached at: