During the campaign for the White House, then-candidate Trump had a lot of European politicians very worried with some of his rhetoric on NATO, the UN, and our international partnerships. Some heard/read his comments and wondered if they were evidences that President Trump might try to end American involvement in these organizations, but most could read deeper and understood what the Presidential candidate was really saying…
Trump was upset, as many Americans were, that our nation seemed forced to constantly shoulder the bulk of the burdens in these organizations.
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Brussels, Belgium to meet with our partners at NATO and to deliver a message from the Trump administration.
“It is my privilege here at the NATO headquarters to express the strong support of President Trump and the United States of America for NATO and our transatlantic alliance. I can say with confidence, America will do our part,” Pence reassured our friends at NATO. However, the support was not unconditional, and VP Pence felt the need to explain that NATO would need to make some changes to ensure our continued commitment. In particular, Pence explained that the United States felt that we were being forced to do more than “our part” in the alliance. He reminded the group that just a few years ago every member nation promised to raise their own defense spending by 2024 and thus far only five of the NATO partners (including the U.S) had done so.
“Europe’s defense requires Europe’s commitment as much as ours… So let me say again what I said this last weekend in Munich. The president of the United States and the American people expect our allies to keep their word and to do more in our common defense, and the president expects real progress by the end of 2017. … It is time for actions, not words.” Pence then added that any NATO country that was not yet spending 2% of their GDP on defense should do so as quickly as possible.
Far from offending our friends at NATO, the group seemed mollified by the Vice President’s exhortation. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg voiced his approval of Pence’s comments: “I fully support what has been underlined by President Trump and by Vice President Pence today, the importance of burden sharing. I expect all allies to make good on the promise that we made in 2014 to increase defense spending and to make sure to have a fairer burden of sharing.” Stoltenberg further promised that NATO would step up and do more in the fight against terrorism, “We agree that the alliance can, and should do more, in the fight against terrorism.”
All-in-all, this was most certainly a successful trip for the Vice President and it’s more evidence of the influence that the Trump administration maintains overseas. While liberals at home and abroad, along with the media, may pretend that President Trump has “weakened” our international position, thus far the evidence seems to prove the exact opposite. President Trump is a force to be reckoned with and our international partners are not only cognizant of that fact, they are responding accordingly. And that’s good for America.