Fact checking Trump’s remarks about NATO, Germany

By Calvin Woodward | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Unleashing in-your-face rhetoric at the NATO summit, President Donald Trump pressed the falsehood Wednesday that members of the alliance owe money to the U.S. and took sole credit for higher military spending by NATO partners — a decision that preceded his presidency.

Trump also misrepresented Germany’s energy picture, asserting coal and nuclear power are gone from the mix. Coal remains a bedrock energy source for Germany despite its hope to wean itself from that mineral and nuclear plants have several years of life before they are to be phased out.

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Here’s a look at some statements from the summit in Brussels:

TRUMP: “Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them. So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you’ll just add it all up. It’s massive amounts of money is owed.” — comments at meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. In a tweet Tuesday, he said: “Will they reimburse the U.S.?”

THE FACTS: There is no such debt to the U.S. or to NATO. Therefore, no delinquency or question of reimbursement.
He is referring to how much each NATO country spends on its own defense and pressing them to spend more. Doing so would relieve some pressure on U.S. military spending. But there are no IOUs to collect from past years.

TRUMP: “Because of me, they’ve raised about $40 billion over the last year.” — remarks about NATO member spending on defense at breakfast with Stoltenberg.
STOLTENBERG: “Last year was the biggest increase in defense spending across Europe and Canada in that generation.”
TRUMP: “Why was that last year?”
STOLTENBERG: “It’s also because of your leadership, because of your carried message.”

THE FACTS: Trump prodded Stoltenberg to give him credit for rising military spending by NATO members, the NATO chief obliged and various officials in the alliance think Trump’s tough talk has had an effect. But the overarching move to increase defense spending by NATO countries began under President Barack Obama.
In 2014, NATO members agreed to stop cutting their military budgets and set a goal of moving “toward” spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their own defense by 2024. Most NATO members are spending less than 2 percent, though more are moving in that direction.
But on Wednesday, Trump roiled the summit by calling on NATO members to more than double their military budgets, saying they should be devoting 4 percent of their economy to defense. That would be up from a collective 1.47 percent this year for non-U.S. NATO allies, according to NATO estimates. Not even the U.S. spends 4 percent of its GDP on defense, according to NATO statistics.
The alliance lists the U.S. as spending an estimated 3.5 percent of its GDP on its military budget this year. Trump …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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