The clashes among Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are now undisguisable. The civility is over, and the ill-mannered political statements that the heads of state (particularly the verbose U.S. president) have directed at one another have given way to seemingly significant political realities.
The United States has just approved the biggest military spending budget in its history. A full $716 billion—which is 14 times Uruguay’s GDP—has been allocated to the armed forces and national and international security. This staggering amount will sustain the U.S.’s own arms industry and bring the cash back home.
Trump has bellowed and cursed for some time. He is tired of footing the bill for the world’s military expenses and of Europe feigning ignorance while it makes far inferior contributions to the planet’s security.
NATO, an organization created in the context of the Cold War in order to counter the power of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, is alive and fighting, despite the fact that the Berlin Wall was torn down, the USSR imploded, the Cold War itself is a feature of James Bond movies and these events are studied in the most recent texts about modern history.
The U.S. contributes $616 billion of NATO’s total budget of $915 billion. It pays 67 percent of the cost, and demands that Europe take responsibility for a much greater percentage.
Everything is enmeshed with the trade war. Trump does not mess around where money is concerned. The tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the barriers against European products being imported into the U.S., are part of the strategy and have resulted in a combined set of circumstances where the beginning is known but the end is not.
Merkel and Macron, Europe’s two most influential leaders and spokesmen, have responded by saying that Europe needs its own army and, at the same time, that the U.S., China and Russia cannot guarantee peace for the old continent. This is a direct attack on NATO, which until now has dealt with the world’s military conflicts.
Macron has gone further and been more explicit: We will not increase our percentage of military spending on NATO and consequently support the U.S. arms industry. In other words, we have to support our own industry, not that of the U.S.
Meanwhile, in Uruguay, we are heatedly debating the matter of admitting entry to foreign troops for a period of eight days in order to secure the Group of 20 leading rich and developing nations summit. In short, it will be a significant issue.