Trump rips Canada, NATO in Singapore tweetstorm

President Donald Trump started his day in Singapore on Monday blasting the Canadian Prime Minister and slamming NATO just after meeting with the U.S. allies at the G-7 meeting in Quebec.

“Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal,” Trump tweeted Monday morning in Singapore. “According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

Trump was referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the tweet.

The president has accused Canada of taking advantage of American workers through their trade practices.

According to the U.S. trade representative, however, there was an $8.4 billion U.S. trade surplus with Canada on goods and services in 2017.

Trump also took aim at NATO for relying too heavily on the U.S. for their security.

“The U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!),” Trump tweeted. “The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

The U.S. pays 22% of NATO’s budget — higher than any other nation.

The U.S. has pushed NATO member nations to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP — a benchmark some have been unable to meet.

Trump was in Singapore preparing for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!” Trump wrote.

[New York Post]

Donald Trump warns NATO members will be ‘dealt with’ if they refuse to pay more for military alliance

Donald Trump singled out Germany in renewing his criticism of Nato members he accuses of not contributing enough, saying laggards would be “dealt with”.

Speaking alongside Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, at the White House, Mr Trump reiterated a longstanding charge that America bears a disproportionate share of supporting the military alliance’s activities.

Germany “has not contributed what it should be contributing and it’s a very big beneficiary”, said the president, who has long had a frosty relationship with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

The president’s world view is rooted in a belief that the US has consistently been taken advantage of by international pacts and organisations – a scepticism that fuels his unilaterally focused “America First” stance.

During the presidential campaign, he suggested America might only defend Nato allies if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

Despite Mr Trump’s wariness, Mr Stoltenberg praised the president for impelling other nations to augment defense spending, saying “it is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defense spending”.

During the presidential campaign, he suggested America might only defend Nato allies if they had “fulfilled their obligations to us”.

Despite Mr Trump’s wariness, Mr Stoltenberg praised the president for impelling other nations to augment defence spending, saying “it is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defence spending”.

[The Independent]

Media

Trump Fires Back at Merkel, Says Germany is ‘Very Bad’ For The US

President Donald Trump has criticized Germany once again for its large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low contributions to NATO, saying this attitude is “very bad” for the United States.

The comments made on Twitter take current tensions in U.S.-German relations a notch higher.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an election rally on Sunday that Germany and the European Union can no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told the rally in Munich.

“I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said. Her comments came as she steps up her campaign in the September federal election.

The image of friendly relations between Germany and the U.S. seems distant since Trump took office. His administration has previously said that Germany’s trade surplus is a result of the country’s manipulation of the euro.

Germany fought back arguing that it doesn’t have powers to manipulate the euro and the only reason consumers opt for its products is because they are more competitive.

Data released last February by the German Federal Statistics Office showed that Germany’s trade surplus rose to 252.9 billion euros ($270.05 billion) in 2016, surpassing the previous high of 244.3 billion euros in 2015. If it were a single trade partner, Germany would be the fifth largest in total trade flows with the U.S. But it runs the third largest trade surplus, after China and Japan.

Meanwhile, contributions to the defense alliance NATO has emerged as another problem between Berlin and Washington. Trump has repeatedly asked NATO allies to step up their contributions. At the moment, only 5 of the 28 members fulfill the target of paying at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

According to NATO data, Germany is currently spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on NATO. The U.S. spends 3.6 percent.

At a summit last week, Germany, like other NATO members, vowed to present an action plan on how it will increase defense spending. At the time, Trump told his allies they were being unfair toward U.S. taxpayers.

[CNBC]

Allies Distance Themselves From U.S. After Trump’s First Foreign Trip

President Trump received a largely cordial welcome on the first overseas trip of his presidency. But now that he’s returned to Washington, the foreign leaders he met with are increasingly blunt in their reviews of the American president.

In separate remarks intended mostly for domestic consumption, leaders of Germany, France and Israel all sought to distance themselves from Trump, just days after meeting with the president during his nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Brussels and Italy.

Among the sources of friction: Trump’s reluctance to unreservedly commit to the North Atlantic alliance, his skepticism of a climate change accord signed on to by his predecessor, President Obama, and outreach to Palestinians in pursuit of a Middle East peace agreement.

“It’s clear that in Europe at least, that anti-Trump position plays well domestically,” said Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration. “But the larger issue is that the trip didn’t go well in Europe.”

The dynamic is partly one of Trump’s brash style. “I think what grates on European leaders is the sense that he does not treat them as equals, let alone as allies,” Daalder said. “He approaches them in this confrontational way, in an attempt to constantly get a better deal out of them.”

Trump hasn’t spoken about the trip publicly, avoiding press conferences for the entire journey. But on Twitter, he pronounced the mission a triumph. “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The reaction abroad was more cautious:

France: New French President Emmanuel Macron said his now-famous white-knuckled handshake with Trump was a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be bullied by the American president. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” he told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche“My handshake with him — it wasn’t innocent.”

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday at a Bavarian beer hall that Europe can no longer “fully rely” on its overseas allies. On climate issues, she said, the Group of Seven meeting was “seven against one” — counting the European Union as part of the seven (and the United States as the one). Her chief political rival took umbrage at the way Trump sought to “humiliate” Merkel in Brussels. “I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government,” said Martin Schulz, who is challenging Merkel for the chancellorship as an “anti-Trump” candidate. He said Trump was “acting like an autocratic leader.”

United Kingdom: British Prime Minister Theresa May is upset that American intelligence officials leaked information about the Manchester concert bombing to the media. Trump acknowledged that he got an earful from May, tweeting Sunday that she was “very angry” about the leaks. “Gave me full details!”

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said Israel has “no better friend” than Trump, appeared to hold the president at arm’s length on Monday. Speaking to members of his conservative Likud party, Netanyahu warned that a Trump-brokered peace negotiation with the Palestinians “comes at a price.” And while he welcomed U.S. support for Israel, he emphasized that “there is no such thing as innocent gifts.”

Palestinian Authority: An Israeli television station reported that Trump shouted at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during their meeting in Bethlehem last week yelling, “You tricked me!” and accusing the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence in the West Bank. (The Palestinians denied the report.)

Trump’s trip began in Saudi Arabia with a summit of Muslim Arab leaders — and they’re perhaps the least likely to grumble. After feeling neglected by Obama, the Saudis welcomed a $110 billion arms package and Trump’s more bellicose rhetoric toward mutual enemies like Iran and the Islamic State.

But in Europe, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy appeared to alienate other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 68-year-old alliance intended to contain Russia — the country at the center of a growing controversy over ties to Trump aides.

At a ceremony meant to solemnize the collective defense provision of the NATO charter in Brussels, Trump failed to explicitly reassure European allies that the U.S. would come to their aid in the event of an attack. Instead, he renewed his complaints that they were not paying their fair share. (In doing so, he misrepresented the commitment by NATO allies to spend at least 2% of their economies on defense.)

And in Sicily, where leaders of the G-7 economic powers gathered, Trump continued his hard-line stance on climate and trade issues. He reportedly told Merkel that Germany was “bad” or “evil” (depending on the translation) because of its trade imbalance with the United States.

But among Trump supporters, his tough talk to foreign leaders drew raves. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he “could not be more pleased” with Trump’s international travels.

“The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president has made great progress on the broad range of objectives,” he said after speaking with Trump on Sunday.

[USA Today]

Trump Claims Defense Money is Pouring Into NATO After Speech

President Trump on Saturday claimed that money was “beginning to pour in” to NATO, just two days after he gave a speech scolding allies for not paying their fair share at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.

“Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger,” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Trump’s wording misrepresents how NATO is organized by suggesting that nations pay the alliance; each nation funds its own defense spending under the NATO umbrella. There is not a specific fund money would be pouring into.

Trump has frequently assailed the treaty organization as “unfair” to the U.S., arguing that other member states have long failed to uphold their defense spending commitments. Only five NATO countries — the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K. and Poland — have met the treaty’s agreement that countries spend at least 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense by 2024.

Trump reiterated that sentiment while speaking to NATO allies this week, saying the members “must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.”

[The Hill]

Trump Blasts NATO Allies for Not Paying Fair Share

Standing before NATO allies in Brussels, President Trump offered a strong rebuke of members who are not meeting defense spending obligations — saying it’s “not fair” to American taxpayers.

“I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years,” said Trump.

[ABC News]

Reality

Donald Trump made the mistake back in July 2016 of his lack of knowledge on NATO, and in his speech in a room full of our NATO allies it was clear he still does not understand how NATO works.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s misunderstanding in March 2017 in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO. This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing, but even when they do increase their defense budgets, no funds will be paid to the US, but all funds go into a pool. Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

Trump Shoved the Montenegro Prime Minister at NATO

During his first joint meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders, President Trump on Thursday appeared to push aside the prime minister of Montenegro.

In a video of the interaction, the president comes up from behind and then shoves Montenegro’s Dusko Markovic to get to the front of the group of world leaders. Trump then adjusts his jacket.

Markovic appears to be taken aback at first, but after seeing that it was Trump, he smiles and pats Trump on the back.

[USA Today]

Trump: NATO Is ‘No Longer Obsolete’

President Trump on Wednesday said that NATO is “no longer obsolete” — a big change after Trump repeatedly called the alliance obsolete on the campaign trail.

At a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said that he will continue to work closely with NATO allies, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism.

“The secretary-general and I had a productive discussion on what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism,” Trump said at Wednesday’s press conference. “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism.”

“I said it was obsolete,” he continued. “It is not longer obsolete.”

During the 2016 campaign and after his election, Trump frequently criticized NATO as “obsolete” and knocked allies for not paying their “fair share.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump reiterated his call that NATO allies “meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.”

He said he discussed with Stoltenberg his desire that allies fulfill their responsibility to spent 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

Trump will travel to Brussels to attend a NATO summit on May 25.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

Trump Tweets Suggest President (Still) Doesn’t Understand How NATO Works

Less than 24 hours after a very awkward and frosty meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to blast Germany for failing to pay enough to NATO and the United States for security. First though, the president began with a conciliatory message, writing that the meeting with Merkel went great. “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” he wrote Saturday morning. But then the president added: “Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

That statement echoed what Trump said during his joint news conference with Merkel on Friday, when he called on NATO members to contribute their “fair share,” saying that “many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States.” Although that could be open to interpretation, the commander in chief’s tweets on Saturday, though, seem to suggest Trump doesn’t really understand how NATO is funded. The New York Times explains:

The message was misleading because no nation actually “owes” money to NATO; its direct funding is calculated through a formula and paid by each of the 28 nations that are members.

Mr. Trump may have been referring to the fact that Germany, like most NATO countries, falls short of the alliance’s guideline that each member should allocate 2 percent of its gross domestic product to military spending, but that money is not intended to be paid to NATO or to the United States.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s seeming mistake in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato. This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them,” Daalder wrote. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. “That’s a good thing,” he added. But even when they do increase their defense budgets, “no funds will be paid to the US … Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

These mistakes on Trump’s end are hardly new. During the presidential campaign, Trump frequently talked about NATO in a confusing way that left his statements open to interpretation.

(h/t Slate)

 

 

Trump: Incorrectly States Putin is ‘Not Gonna Go Into Ukraine’

Donald Trump said in an interview Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t going to go into Ukraine, even though the Russian military has intervened in the nation’s affairs since 2014.

“He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down,” Trump said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” Host George Stephanopoulos pushed back, saying, “Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?”

“OK, well, he’s there in a certain way,” Trump responded.

“But I’m not there. You have [President] Obama there. And, frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this.”

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Ukraine isn’t part of the NATO coalition, so US soldiers would have no legal right to show up on their sovereign lands to fight and defend against Russian troops, risking a much larger conflict.

Instead President Obama, along with European countries, enacted sanctions against Russia. The sanctions have been very effective, which contributed to the collapse of the Russian ruble and the 2014–15 Russian financial crisis.

The result being the Minsk and Minsk II diplomatic agreements where Russia agreed to pull their military out of Ukraine.

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