Portuguese American Journal

Opinion | NATO according to Trump most alarming news | Len Port

By Len Port

The most alarming news this week for Portugal and the rest of Europe has been Donald Trump’s threat to abandon NATO because some members were “not paying their bills.” He said he told a NATO ally that he would encourage Russia “to do whatever the hell they want to ‘delinquent’ members.”

It sent shock waves across all member states. As president of the United States from January 2017 to January 2021, Trump was scathing about members of the alliance. If reinstated to the White House as expected in this November’s national election, it is feared he may turn his bitter words into action. At this stage, there are serious worries that his latest threat is more than electioneering hyperbole from a would-be dictator.

Incumbent President Joe Biden called Trump’s comments “appalling and dangerous.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the threat put American and European soldiers “at increasing risk.”

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Portugal was one of the 12 founding countries of the Atlantic Alliance in 1949. Today there are a total of 31 members of the alliance, Finland becoming the latest, by joining last year. However, only 11 of the 31 are paying their agreed share on defense, according to official estimates. These are composed mostly of countries close to Russia and Ukraine. Portugal is among the 20 NATO members not paying enough.

The alliance set a target of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) for each member. Poland is top of the list of spenders with 3.90% of its GDP on defense more than the United States which spends 3.49%. The United Kingdom is also above the 2% threshold. The most notable members not reaching the target are France (1.90%), Germany (1.57%), and Norway (1. 67%). Portugal is closer to the bottom of the list with 1.48%. Canada has only managed 1.38% and Spain 1.26%.

Despite the defense spending below the 2% guideline, Jens Stoltenberg hit back at Trump, saying, “I expect that regardless of who wins the election, the U.S will remain a strong and committed ally.” He stressed that any attack on a NATO country would “be met with a united and forceful response.” NATO is heavily involved in supporting Ukraine following Russia’s 2022 invasion and is collaborating more with Indo-Pacific countries in view of China’s aggression in the region.

Portugal is perhaps one of NATO’s least vulnerable countries, should it come to a spread of the conflict in Europe. Yet the geographical location of mainland Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira has always offered a strategic, protective triangle for NATO. An increase in defense expenditure will no doubt be debated after next month’s legislative election in this country.


Len Port, born in Northern Ireland, worked as a news reporter and correspondent, mainly in Hong Kong and South Africa, before moving to Portugal many years ago.


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