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Misguided criticisms about NATO burden-sharing are far from new

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, and Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, listen during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on May 17, 2018.
President Trump with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a White House meeting on May 17, 2018. Photo: Andrew Harrer-Pool via Getty Images

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will hold its biannual summit July 11-12 in Brussels. The meeting will bring together senior leaders of the 29 member countries and comes at a time of tension for the alliance. Since taking office, President Trump has consistently criticized other members for insufficient defense spending, which he sees as creating a disproportionate burden on the U.S.

The big picture: Almost since the inception of the alliance, these have been contentious questions. In fact, a 1989 RAND Corporation study of burden-sharing noted that the past 40 years had seen “innumerable” pages of legislative testimony and reports on the subject and that debate would continue as long as NATO exists.