Trump Says Germany 'Owes' The US And NATO For Defense

Germany spent $37 billion on defense in 2016 and has pledged to increase that amount over the next few years.
Posted at 4:39 PM, Mar 18, 2017

President Donald Trump had some words for German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference Friday.

"I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense," President Donald Trump said. "Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years."

And on Saturday morning, he re-emphasized that point and tweeted Germany owes money to NATO — and to the U.S. — for defense.

To be clear, no one technically owes money to NATO.

Instead, NATO countries have agreed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on military and defense. So, if a NATO member country is ever attacked, the rest can help.

Its called collective defense, part of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. It's only been invoked once since NATO was started; that was after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

But that spending agreement, made once in 2006 and again in 2014, is supposed to happen within the next 10 years.

Germany spent $37 billion on defense in 2016. But as the world's fourth-largest economy, that amount only accounted for 1.2 percent of its GDP.

The country plans to spend $2.1 billion more this year on its military, but to meet NATO's 2 percent margin, it would have to dedicate more than double the amount it is now. Merkel said that goal likely won't be reached for several years.