Trump said he might ignore NATO’s duty to defend. Here’s what the group does.


NATO members’ defense ministers in 2006 agreed that each country would spend about 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.

The United States spent $860 billion, 3.49 percent of its GDP, on defense in 2023, according to NATO estimates. Together, all non-U.S. members combined spend less than half of U.S. defense expenditures.

According to NATO, the United States also provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refueling; ballistic missile defense; and airborne electromagnetic equipment.

The sentiment that the United States has done more than its fair share for NATO isn’t new or held only by Republican administrations.

In 2011, Obama administration Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates scolded Europe’s dependence on American military might during a farewell speech.

He said Washington had a “dwindling appetite” to serve as NATO’s enforcer, and he condemned European defense cuts. He added that the United States was tired of fighting for those who “don’t want to share the risks and the costs.”

Trump has taken that sentiment another level, Shifrinson said.

“What Trump has done has put it on steroids. Because he’s so blunt and undiplomatic … it’s pushing the Europeans to rethink how much dependence they want to put on the United States,” Shifrinson said.

After Trump’s speech Saturday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance remains ready and able to defend itself.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” he wrote in a statement. “I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election the US will remain a strong and committed NATO ally.”

Miriam Berger, Claire Parker and Sammy Westfall contributed to this report.


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