Earlier today, during an impromptu, surprise press conference at the conclusion to the NATO summit, president Trump said that the allies achieved “tremendous progress today”, and claimed that NATO member states had agreed to boost spending, while hanging the threat of a US pullout from the alliance: “I think I probably can,” was Trump’s answer when asked if he thought he could withdraw the U.S. from NATO without the approval of Congress.
There was just one problem: first French president Macron, then Angela Merkel both played down, if not outright denied, Trump’s claims that a spending agreement had been reached.
When asked directly whether countries had committed to speed up spending as Trump claimed in his news conference, French President Emmanuel Macron stated the following response, which suggests that plans remains the same as always.
“Everyone agreed to raise spending as they agreed in 2014, and everyone agreed to respect the commitments they made,” Macron said. “We reaffirmed a credible budget strategy that meets our needs.”
Separately, Merkel also struck a non-committal tone and said “we should always be looking at what more we can do” which is roughly 180 degrees away from a firm commitment. Her full quote:
“We’ll have to talk about to what extent we can do more on defense. We presented the current situation. But considering the discussion among the European allies, not only he Americans, I think we need to ask ourselves consistently what more we can do.”
In other words, just like after the G7 meeting, Trump came, he saw, and left nothing but confusion in his wake.