President Donald Trump is in Brussels on Thursday for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, where he delivered a speech that generated some interesting reactions from European leaders.
During the speech, Trump lectured other NATO members on the need to pay their fair share of defense costs, and said "massive amounts of money" were owed, BBC News reports.
Trump's statements mischaracterized how NATO actually functions, which explains why Angela Merkel rolled her eyes as he made these remarks.
At one point during Trump's speech, French President Emmanuel Macron's face transitioned from a smile to a grimace.
NATO was founded upon the notion collective defense -- it's an alliance -- but Trump brought a very divisive attitude to the summit and the reactions to his speech speak volumes.
On top of insulting the leaders on defense spending, Trump appeared to shove another NATO leader out of the way at one point so he could be in front of the group.
This is not the first time Trump has attacked other NATO members.
Trump has essentially painted NATO as an organization propped up by the U.S.
He seems to believe the U.S. is providing defense for other countries through NATO and feels they need to pay up.
But that's a misrepresentation of how NATO operates and why it exists.
NATO was created as an alliance against the Soviet Union.
But it's played an important role in defense long after the collapse of the USSR.
An attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all members.
The U.S. certainly plays a central role in NATO in multiple respects, but it functions through diplomacy and cooperation between multiple nations, concepts Trump seemingly struggles to grasp.
As Ivo Daalder, who served as the U.S. permanent representative to NATO from 2009 to 2013, explained to Trump in a series of tweets back in March,
Sorry, Mr President, that's not how NATO works. The U.S. decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato. This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the U.S. to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.
All NATO countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. So far five of 28 NATO countries do. Those who currently don't spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets. That's a good thing.
Trump's stance toward NATO will undoubtedly create tensions between the U.S. and its traditional allies, the consequences of which remain to be seen.