Donald Trump's "Letters of Happiness"« Back
The US president found a new opportunity to exacerbate relations with his allies. On the eve of the NATO summit in Brussels, which will be held on July 11-12, messages were sent to the leaders of the alliance countries on behalf of Donald Trump: Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Inside, it is a requirement to fulfill earlier commitments to increase military spending, which should be at least 2% of the national GDP.
These messages were held in harsh colors, so the US can "regulate its military presence in the world if the allies do not take measures and will not invest more in ensuring their own security." In practice, this could mean, for example, withdrawal of US military bases from the territory of the country and introduction of restrictions on the scale and frequency of joint military exercises. In fact, this is the blackmail of its allies.
Donald Trump also said that he was already "losing patience" in the expectation of fulfilling previously given promises. And in a letter to the German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, the US President wrote: "The continuing underpayments by Germany to the defense budget undermine the security of the [North Atlantic] Union and become an excuse for not meeting the defense spending obligations for other allies who view Germany as a model". In this regard, "it will be increasingly difficult for the American people to explain why some NATO members do not share the common burden of collective security spending, while US soldiers sacrifice their lives abroad or return home wounded".
European partners, for their part, see this as a deepening of the contradictions with the US, which was clearly demonstrated during the recent meeting of the Group of Seven in Quebec.
Nevertheless, European countries, anxious about their own problems, do not want to spend money on their military security. So, in December 2017, Spain's former defense minister, Maria Dolores de Cospeldal, sent a letter to NATO, in which she promised that only by 2024 Spain, would send 1.5% of its GDP to military spending. And this will amount to €18.5 billion, which is twice the current military budget. And in the annual NATO report published in March 2018, it is said that Spain spent in 2017 on military needs 0.9% of GDP.
This insistence of Donald Trump is not accidental. With military expenditures of 2% of GDP, the state can usually spend a fifth of it on modernizing the national armed forces (armed forces) by purchasing expensive weapons and military equipment produced in the US: aircraft (first of all, fighters of the 5th generation F-35 and P-8 Poseidon base patrol aircraft), anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems, warships and armored vehicles. Obviously, few people are ready for this from European countries, where there are virtually no full-fledged armed forces (for example, Hungary prepares only for defense, so it has practically no tanks).
However, there is another reason for this activity of the Trump administration. July 16 in Helsinki, a meeting of the leaders of Russia and the United States, this, among other things, will consider the «disarmament theme." Demanding from his allies a sharp increase in the level of military spending, Donald Trump, thus, raises the stakes in the negotiations with Vladimir Putin. In particular, the US leader can raise the issue of withdrawing the Iskander operational and tactical complexes from the Kaliningrad region and refusing to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons there in exchange for appropriate concessions from the US. For example, the issue of placing an American mechanized division permanently in Poland can be considered as the latter.
Thus, Donald Trump, as an experienced player in the business sphere, uses every opportunity to strengthen his own positions. Inside the country, this is expressed in lobbying the interests of the domestic defense industry complex by expanding the market for it. As a consequence, European leaders received from him "letters of happiness" demanding a sharp increase in their own military spending. This can also come in handy during the meeting with Vladimir Putin, when the threat of dragging Russia into a new arms race could force Moscow to make some concessions. But at the same time, the transatlantic ties are again being tested for strength, which in the future may threaten Washington with extremely serious negative consequences.