Countries around the world converged in London for this year’s meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which has seen spats and disagreements as well as the usual meeting of world leaders. With the number of member nations increasing from 12 to 29 since NATO’s creation in 1949, President Donald Trump has declared America could start trade action with countries he feels are not contributing as much as others.
And although many countries are already, or are nearly, reaching the 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product contribution for NATO, Trump appeared unhappy, commenting:
“A lot of countries are close and getting closer. And some are really not close, and we may do things having to do with trade. It’s not fair that they get U.S. protection and they’re not putting up their money.”
A planned 70th anniversary celebration summit saw French President Emmanuel Macron and Trump disagree over which way they believe NATO should go in the future. With demands that Europe gives U.S. interests concessions on trade as well as increasing its contribution for defense, Trump has made it clear he is unhappy with some aspects of an organization that has been seen by many to be the most successful pact in military history.
Yet he was full of praise towards the end of the summit after he confirmed his meetings had been successful and that he believes “NATO is in very, very good shape and the relationships with other countries are really extraordinary.”
While this may be the case between countries, the same cannot be said for the relationships between world leaders. A video of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to show him criticizing Trump to a group of other leaders, including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rute, French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Princess Anne and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The short clip – which has subsequently gone viral – appears to show Trudeau laughing and gossiping about Trump’s unscheduled press conference. Johnson inquires why Macron is late and Trudeau responds “he was late because he takes a… 40 minute press conference at the top,” while Macron nods his agreement. Although President Trump was not mentioned by name, he has since accused Trudeau of being “two-faced” while Trudeau seemed to be annoyed over remarks made by Trump implying he believes Canada is not keeping up to its financial commitments for NATO.
Trump also criticized Macron after he recently released a statement where he said NATO was dealing with a “brain death” due to a decline in the U.S. leadership, a comment Trump referred to as a “nasty statement.” Yet ‘hot mic’ incidents are becoming more common and Trump himself was caught commenting on his cancelled press conference scheduled for the end of the trip saying:
“Oh, and then you know what they’ll say. ‘He didn’t do a press conference. He didn’t do a press conference.’ That was funny when I said the guy’s two-faced, you know that.”
Trump also took to Twitter to comment on the summit stating that “great progress” has been made at NATO since he became POTUS three years ago.
Yet there have been many disagreements throughout the summit – particularly in relation to Turkey and terrorism – leading to all members presenting a united front at a golf resort, just outside of London. Posing for a ‘family’ photo, the leaders then headed to a three hour meeting with a statement being released shortly afterwards promising to concentrate on issues of importance including China — who is emerging as a superpower in the world despite it’s trade war with America — and Russia, who still appear to be creating issues.
The statement included:
“Our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”
Trump has also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the White House confirming “the two Presidents discussed the importance of Turkey fulfilling its alliance commitments, further strengthening commerce through boosting bilateral trade by $100 billion, regional security challenges, and energy security.”
However, Trump’s comment that nations not hitting their targeted contributions could be resolved “from a trade standpoint,” or adding tariffs to products such as French wine, did not go down well with Macron. France currently contributes 1.9% of their GDP and Trump’s comments prompted him to reply, “it’s not just about money. What about peace in Europe? It’s impossible just to say we have to put money, we have to put soldiers, without being clear on the fundamentals of what NATO should be.”
The pair continued to disagree on further issues including how to deal with Islamic State after U.S. forces were withdrawn from Syria in October — a decision Trump made without discussion with NATO — making it easier for Turkey to target U.S. allied Kurdish militia based in the north of Syria, sparking fears of an increase in IS attacks.
When discussing whether France should be doing more regarding taking captured Islamic State fighters, Trump asked Macron if he wanted “some nice ISIS fighters.” However, Macron argued that the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops had caused problems claiming “you have more and more of these fighters due to the situation today.”