In one of his tackier moves, Donald Trump handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel a bill for more than $370 billion last week, saying it was money that Germany “owed” to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Trump is said to have literally printed out an invoice with amounts his aides had estimated were owed by Germany for under-paying their pledged investment to the military.
“Seriously, this is some amateur hour stuff. Way to show the world – again – you’re not ready for prime time, Trump.”
— Eric Schmeltzer (@JustSchmeltzer) March 26, 2017
The bill, whose exact total has not been revealed by either Washington or German officials, was backdated to 2002, and includes money to defense pledged by Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, according to The Independent.
NATO countries pledge 2 percent of their GDP to military spending, although many are unable to meet that goal. Trump told his aides to calculate how much under the 2 percent Germany has spent over the last 12 years, and then added interest to the total. Estimates came to about $311 billion for back-dated payments and then about $62 billion was added on for interest.
Trump has been outspoken about NATO allied countries failing to meet their 2 percent commitment to military spending, saying that it leaves the United States footing the bill. Currently, the 2 percent commitment is only being met by the U.S., U.K., Estonia, Greece, and Poland, according to The Times.
Allegedly, Trump gave Merkel this bill during private talks during meetings in Washington last week. One German official who spoke to The Times was outraged:
“The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations.”
Also reported by The Times: Trump has had his aides calculate similar bills for all other NATO countries who are below the 2 percent target.
Noting that spending on international development should be taken into consideration for NATO commitments, Merkel has reportedly said she would commit to gradually increasing military spending. But, she is also said to have “ignored the provocation” of Trump’s invoice.
A Times source close to Merkel said:
“The president has a very unorthodox view on NATO defense spending. The alliance is not a club with a membership fee. The commitments relate to countries’ investment in their defense budgets.”
It’s going to be a long four years watching Trump embarrass the United States in front of our international allies and partners on a regular basis. After refusing to shake the German Chancellor’s hand like a gentlemen, and then handing over a bill like a shopkeeper, it’s really appalling to think that Trump’s cringe-worthy money grubbing and lack of grace and diplomacy is going to be the face of America to the rest of the world for the next few years.