Expert Voices

NATO strengthened at summit, despite Trump's threats and gripes

President Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May with other NATO leaders
President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May standing among other NATO leaders at the alliance's 2018 summit in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

On President Trump's first day at the NATO Summit, he scolded Germany as "a captive of Russia," accused allies of being delinquent on defense payments and called on member countries to double their defense spending from 2% to 4% of GDP. But he then joined 28 allied leaders in signing a declaration that bolsters NATO deterrence and defense and starkly criticized Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea.

Why it matters: The first set of statements are deeply divisive and call Trump's commitment to NATO into question. Germany is hardly controlled by Moscow, allies don't owe the U.S. any money and even the U.S. doesn't spend 4% of GDP on defense. These are all statements designed to undermine NATO.