Trump doubles down on NATO criticism

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( – Reiterating his recent criticisms of NATO, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said Tuesday the transatlantic alliance was “obsolete,” does not deal with terrorism, gets too much U.S. funding, and should be “rejiggered.”

“Let me tell you, NATO is obsolete,” Trump said during the CNN Republican presidential town hall in Milwaukee, Wisc.

NATO “doesn’t cover terrorism, okay?” he said. “It covers the Soviet Union which is no longer in existence.”

“And NATO has to either be rejiggered, rechanged  – changed for the better.”

Trump said terrorism was “our single biggest threat right now.”

In order to revamp NATO, he said, “you’re going obviously to have to add different nations in, because you have nations that aren’t in NATO that are very much into the world of terror – both in terms of causing it and receiving it.”

Trump was also critical of the amount of U.S. funding going to NATO.

“The other thing that’s bad about NATO, we’re paying too much,” he said. “We’re spending a tremendous – billions and billions of dollars on NATO.”

“You have countries in NATO that are getting a free ride and it’s unfair. It’s very unfair,” Trump continued. “The United States cannot afford to be the policeman of the world anymore, folks. We have to rebuild our own country. We have to stop with this stuff.”

Terrorism, WMD ‘likely to be the principal threats’

NATO was established in 1949 to deter Soviet expansionism and encourage European integration after World War II. The fall of the Soviet Union saw the alliance expand eastward – angering Moscow – as newly-liberated eastern and central European nations joined.

In the new century terrorism has become a bigger focus for NATO. Article five of the North Atlantic Treaty, under which an attack on any member is considered an attack on all, was invoked for the first time in the alliance’s history in response not to Russian aggression, but to the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S.

Since then, NATO’s operations and programs have included the counter-terror mission in Afghanistan, patrols to deter maritime terrorist activity in the Mediterranean Sea (Operation Active Endeavor), and its Defense Against Terrorism program of work, which aims to prevent non-conventional attacks including suicide bombings and attacks on critical infrastructure.

At a summit in 2006, NATO leaders declared that “terrorism, increasingly global in scope and lethal in results, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction are likely to be the principal threats to the Alliance over the next 10 to 15 years.”

NATO’s 28 member-states provide common funding for the alliance’s civil budget (which covers headquarters’ running costs); military budget (the integrated command structure); and its Security Investment Program (military capabilities). The cost-sharing formula is based on members’ gross national income.

The U.S. contributes 22 percent of the total, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. The next biggest contributors are Germany (14.6 percent), France (10.6 percent), Britain (9.8 percent) and Italy (8.4 percent). Thirteen members pay less than one percent each.

Member-states also provide national contributions for particular military operations.

In 2006, NATO member-states agreed to commit a minimum of two percent of Gross Domestic Product to defense spending – a guideline which, according to NATO, serves principally “as an indicator of a country’s political will to contribute to the Alliance’s common defense efforts.”

In 2015, only five of the 28 met that threshold – the United States, Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia.

— Written by Patrick Goodenough