US Senate at odds with President Trump over NATO alliance

626

 

WASHIGNTON, July 11 (APP):As President Donald Trump continues to air his frustration with NATO over sharing defense spending, the US Senate passed a motion with an overwhelming majority to express its support for the Western alliance, calling on negotiators to reaffirm the US commitment to it.
Lawmakers from both the ruling Republican Party and the Democrats voted 97-2 to express their support for the longtime alliance ahead of the Summit being held in Brussels. In President Trump’s criticism, the post-World War II alliance is facing an unprecedented crisis.
The motion passed by the Senate on Tuesday is though non-binding, but shows the friction between lawmakers and President Trump over a major foreign policy issue. The two Senators that opposed the motion were from the Republican Party.
President Trump has long been critical of NATO members as he says that they have failed to meet their
defense spending commitments. He ramped up his criticism during days leading to the summit.
While on his way to Brussels to attend the Summit, President Trump suggested in a tweet that other NATO members should reimburse the US for what he called the “nation’s” unfair contribution to the alliance.
NATO members in 2014 agreed to increase their share of defense spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic product by 2024, but President Trump argues that this spending should be on NATO as a whole, not on the countries’ individual defense.
In yet another sign of growing conflict with NATO members, President Trump severely criticized a major NATO member, Germany, saying that its oil and gas pipeline project “Nord Stream 2“ has rendered the country under
Russian control. .
“I think it’s very sad when Germany makes massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you’re supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,” Trump said in his opening remarks at the breakfast, which were broadcast live on television.
The remarks seemingly surprised NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who had been trying hard to convince the President that NATO members are responding to his demand for increasing military spending. Germany, the biggest and richest NATO ally after the United States, has been a target of President Trump’s constant criticism
for its failure to meet the NATO spending target.
Germany and Russia, against which the NATO alliance was formed after World War 11, have defended the project as a commercial deal with no political context.
“In attacking Germany over the gas pipeline project, Trump was also making a potentially dangerous link between security and defense issues and economic disputes,” the online political news portal The POLITICO
said in a report on Wednesday.
The attacks on NATO comes come as President Trump has also frustrated key trading allies like the
European Union, Canada and Mexico with steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.