On Monday Donald Trump sat down for an intense hour long interview with the editorial board of the Washington Post, largely talking about his foreign policy. Recently Trump has been talking and tweeting about reducing the US involvement with NATO, prompting much hand wringing from our allies in Europe.
“NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe but we’re spending a lot of money,” Trump said Monday to the Washington Post editorial board. “Number 1, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed. I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved. And I think we bear the, you know, not only financially, we bear the biggest brunt of it.”
While Trump doesn’t seem very confident that the US contributes the most to NATO (he said “I think” three times in as many sentences), I actually looked it up. It turns out that he’s right, the US is the largest contributor to NATO’s funding, at 22%. Germany and France are the next largest contributors at 14% and 10% respectively.
What he doesn’t say is that our NATO troop presence is down 85% since its high in the late 1990s. At that time the US contributed 200000 troops, and now that level is just 30000. It seems unlikely that bring these troops home is a good idea, nor would it save very much money. These troops staff extremely important bases around Europe and help to stabilize our most important allies. They are also nearby world hot spots like the Middle East and Africa, on the ready if fighting erupts. These troops would have to be paid anyway in America, as well as added transportation costs and time if they were kept here. It is hard to overestimate the value of a stable and pro-American European continent to the US.