One of the great pleasures of Trump’s presidency has been watching the media, Democrats, and our foreign allies get continuously and repeatedly surprised by the fact that Trump is going to do exactly what he said he was going to do during his historic campaign. Every time! Whether it’s putting a travel ban against terrorist havens, clamping down on immigration, pulling us out of the Paris Climate Agreement, or ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, everyone just seems agog that he is actually going through with his planned agenda. It really amuses us to no end.
Unfortunately, there is a flipside to this constant surprise; people seem to stubbornly refuse to believe that Trump will make good on his word until he actually goes through with it. We’ve seen this over the past couple of months when it comes to our trade agreements around the world. Canada, Mexico, and our European allies made no effort whatsoever to negotiate with President Trump. They didn’t believe for a second that he would exercise his right to impose tariffs on their exports to make up for the badly-lopsided deals the U.S. has been laboring under for years. And, well, they found out that they were terribly mistaken, didn’t they? Even some Republicans were surprised about that one.
And we have a feeling our NATO allies are about to come to the same realization when it comes to Trump’s insistence that they pay their fair share. For a year and a half now, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Norway, and others have nodded and smiled and shined the president on as he has talked about them living up to their national security obligations. Now, according to The New York Times, President Trump has sent each of them a “sharply worded letter” reminding them that he is dead serious about their failure to pay. And if these letters don’t get a proper response, they could find themselves in a world of trouble.
“As we discussed during your visit in April, there is growing frustration in the United States that some allies have not stepped up as promised,” Trump wrote to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The United States continues to devote more resources to the defense of Europe when the Continent’s economy, including Germany’s, are doing well and security challenges abound. This is no longer sustainable for us.”
We have no particular interest in seeing NATO go by the wayside, but Trump is not the first president to express these frustrations. He is, however, the first president who has shown a willingness to actually do something about it. Our European friends can smile and nod their way through these warnings if they like, but we’d strongly encourage them to – for once – take this president seriously. Unlike his predecessors, Donald J. Trump means what he says.