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Comment | Nato exchange shows Trump's ugly bad faith

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12.07.2018

COMMENT:

This morning, at the Nato summit, US President Donald Trump got into an extended dust-up with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and the exchange generating the headlines is the one in which Trump ripped into Germany.

Trump criticised Germany for getting so much energy from Russia, adding: "We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that's being paid to the country we're supposed to be protecting you against."

As some quickly pointed out, Trump was basically performing a version of his "No puppet. No puppet. You're the puppet" routine, as well as treating Nato a bit like a "protection racket."

But there's another exchange with Stoltenberg that is also extremely telling.

In it, Stoltenberg was talking about how Nato members had agreed to boost their contributions to Nato defence costs, as insisted upon by Trump, who claims the United States is getting ripped off. But then Trump demanded Stoltenberg give him credit for it:

After Stoltenberg noted that Nato members had boosted their spending recently, Trump asked: "Why was that?" Stoltenberg took Trump's cue and said it was "because of your leadership." Trump then gestured to the press and said, "They won't write that."

Stoltenberg then supplied Trump with the additional praise he wanted, even claiming that "your message is having an impact." It was after Stoltenberg extolled the virtues of the alliance that Trump launched into the diatribe about Russia, Germany and energy — and again claimed the United States is being treated unfairly.

What's remarkable here is Stoltenberg's active effort to get Trump to take credit for getting his own way at Nato.

European officials badly want Trump to do this, because they are hoping it will mollify him.


Diplomats are worried that Trump's commitment to the organisation might weaken to a crisis point, which........

© New Zealand Herald