Sayeh Yousefi analyzes Trump’s relationship with NATO allies and his actions at the 43rd G7 Summit in Taormina (ME), Sicily, Italy
The notorious Article 5 — about dedicating 2% of each member’s GDP to defense spending remains a point of contention. General Stolberg spent portions of the meeting demonstrating that this sharing has been negative in the past but “has become more positive”. Spicer said this was an “affirmation of the president’s priorities”.
In the past, Trump has been very vocal in his criticisms of NATO allies not fully committing to the requirement to dedicate 2% of its GDP towards its own defense. Trump had said in the past that the fulfillment of this commitment will make “our partnership […] that much stronger”.
Speaking to Trump’s visit to the NATO headquarters, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was quick to praise the responsiveness of NATO to Trump’s comments and criticisms regarding a shared commitment among NATO allies to fight violence and conflict, particularly with the 2% of GDP commitment.
“Right off the bat, there was unanimous support for a resolution to commit to burden sharing and combating terrorism, which are two things the President talked about during his campaign and now as president. To see unanimous support for the two main priorities of the President, and the Secretary General was praiseworthy of the President’s effort, was a great way to start it off.”
Trump has sparked controversy and criticism for not explicitly endorsing the article by name at the summit. Historically, every U.S. President to visit and speak at the NATO headquarters has endorsed Article 5. Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, said this was “a major mistake” on Trump’s behalf.
Article 5 is arguably one of the most important binding articles of NATO, as it is an agreement on collective defense measures and can be invoked if any NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack. It requires that if an action is deemed an armed attack on an ally, all members must take necessary actions to aid the attacked country.
Spicer, however, dismissed such criticisms, essentially saying it was both unnecessary and redundant to reaffirm commitment to the article, since “by the very nature of being here”, and being a member of NATO, there is an implied commitment to all articles and requirements of NATO.
In response to other questions, including regarding media uproar of the video of Trump apparently brushing aside Montenegro’s Prime Minister for a photo, Spicer simply said that standing order at such photos is predetermined.
Spicer also didn’t sound fazed or concerned regarding Trump’s relationship with European leaders, rather claimed that “the relationships continue to grow stronger and stronger”, contrary to some claims from many popular news sources.
Later today Trump will be attending the G7 Summit, following meetings with other world leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
It’ll be interesting to continue to note how popular media outlets respond and portray such meetings, whether the harsh criticisms of even the smallest actions will continue.
If minute things like hand gestures or hand-shaking continue to take the media spotlight, Trump’s actions and words on actions that hold actual leverage and influence may be overlooked.