October 21, 2020

NATO Is Another Trump Achievement

More nations are upholding their end of the bargain for defense spending.

Tomorrow night’s presidential debate was supposed to be the third. It’s actually the second. It was supposed to be about foreign policy. Instead, it’ll be about subjects more friendly to Joe Biden. So in the interest of doing the job the mainstream media refuses to do and informing Americans about a particular foreign policy success of Donald Trump’s administration, we’ll point to NATO.

Donald Trump came to Washington to shake things up, and that was no less true with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO was full of members resting on their laurels and taking advantage of American bounty and defense capabilities. Few were truly pulling their weight. In 2016, Trump called them out as “obsolete,” ruffling more than a few feathers. Even we were skeptical that tactic would work.

But when President Trump set to work prodding NATO nations to hold up their end of the bargain in terms of defense spending, things started looking up.

NATO nations are supposed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense, but in 2017, only five nations were doing so. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that the number is now nine. “From 2016 to now, our NATO allies have added a total of $130 billion to defense spending, thanks to the United States’ leadership,” the Pentagon chief said. “Even better, we expect that figure to top $400 billion by 2024.”

Esper likewise echoed Trump’s message to the 70-year-old alliance: “To overcome the increasingly complex threats in the 21st century and to defend our shared values, there can be no free riders to our common security.”

We hope President Trump will find a way to work this in during the debate, because it’s an achievement worth noting. And it’s certainly a stark contrast with the “lead from behind” strategy of Team Obama-Biden.

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