Fellow Patriot: The voluntary financial generosity of supporters like you keeps our hard-hitting analysis coming. Please support the 2023 Year-End Campaign today. Thank you for your support! —Nate Jackson, Managing Editor

June 2, 2017

How Tense Are Things Between Merkel and Trump?

It’s fairly strained at the moment, but don’t count out a stronger NATO alliance when all is said and done.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump often noted that NATO was being carried by the United States, and that it was either time for our allies to begin pulling their weight or for the U.S. to pull out. Trump softened this rhetoric over the course of the campaign and into his presidency, but it still hasn’t made him the most popular person in Europe. It’s a trend of disdain from the European public that began well before Trump won the election and has reached fever pitch now that the U.S. has hit the reset button on the Paris Climate Agreement.

But when it comes to NATO, Trump had a point: European nations should spend more on defense. Out of 28 member nations, just five are allocating their proper share to defense and, as the president pointed out, “Two percent [of GDP] is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats.” As a point of comparison, the United States spends about 3.6% of GDP on its defense budget, although that number will increase under Trump. The other four NATO nations that make the 2% threshold are Estonia, Greece, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Among all member nations, Trump may be most frustrated with Germany, whose economic strength makes it a natural counterbalance within the alliance. But the reluctance of our Teutonic friends to spend money on their military means they contribute well under the 2% threshold NATO dictates. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s in the midst of seeking a fourth term at the German helm, is in the unenviable position of agreeing with Trump on two key issues — European defense and support of the euro against the dollar — while feeling it necessary to run against the American president given his deep unpopularity in Germany and across Europe.

Yet while she’s making overtures in trade and relationships with Asian nations, and preaching about a more self-reliant Europe, Merkel has also been slowly increasing Germany’s defense spending to keep up with NATO demands over the past few years. But it’s a process that must accelerate more rapidly to reach the 2% threshold before Trump’s term ends.

Going it alone, though, wouldn’t be cheap for Germany — or Europe overall, for that matter. As Jim Geraghty notes at National Review: “My suspicion is that Germans will look at the cost of defending themselves from Russia or other potential hostile forces on their own and then happily get out the checkbook to cover that eight-tenths of 1 percent that NATO wants.” This is the likely result if Merkel is re-elected this fall, and once Germany begins to pony up, many other allies may do so as well.

Dare we even think that Trump, ever the negotiator, may use these NATO contribution increases as bargaining chips in a master plan to rework the Paris climate agreement to terms more favorable to Americans? He left the door open on Paris to negotiate a better deal, even if key nations are saying that’s not going to happen. Bear in mind that Italy, France and Germany, which made this joint statement, are among the NATO laggards and therefore lack the credibility to talk about living up to one’s agreements.

At this early stage of his presidency, Trump has demonstrated an uncanny ability to look like a complete failure at first while eventually walking away with a very good deal. Those who thought he could never make it through the primary, never win the general election, and never pass a health care bill are seeing this pattern repeat itself. Now these naysayers are whining that “the belief in shared values [between Germany and the U.S.] has been shattered by the Trump administration.” Given this current acrimony, don’t count out a stronger NATO alliance when Donald Trump leaves office.

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.