The NATO alliance and European leaders are going out their way to win President Donald Trump’s favor during his Wednesday visit to the alliance’s head of state summit.
The summits will reportedly focus on how the alliance can increase its counter-terrorism efforts, and how each country can reach its pledged spending target. Trump has voiced significant ire at alliance countries for failing to reach their spending targets, and at one time called the alliance “obsolete” for not focusing on the fight against the Islamic State.
“There will be an effort to make sure Trump feels comfortable with the alliance and give him no reason to break with it,” former Slovakian ambassador to NATO told The New York Times. Former Obama administration official Derek Chollet elaborated that “NATO leaders will try to convince him about the importance of NATO and that he’s winning.”
Trump made clear in an April meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that needs to upgrade and “focus on today’s most pressing security and all of its challenges, including migration and terrorism.” He also complained in March 2016 during the campaign that “I think the distribution of costs has to be changed. I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved,” Trump told The Washington Post in March 2016. Trump doubled down in a CNN interview the same day, saying, “Frankly, they have to put up more money. They’re going to have to put some up also. We’re paying disproportionately. It’s too much.”
Stoltenberg may announce the alliance’s ascent to the U.S. led anti-ISIS coalition, which would be a significant win for Trump. The alliance in exchange is reportedly hoping for Trump to officially make clear the U.S. will stand by the Article 5 commitment within NATO, which commits the U.S. to defend any country attacked within the alliance.
Even if NATO does formally join the U.S. anti-ISIS coalition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear before the summit Germany will not increase its contributions.
“I want to state very clearly, that even if such a decision is made, it will not mean that any military activity that Germany currently carries out,” she declared.
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