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Donald Trump just did Europe a favor – POLITICO

OK, now what?

The truth is, Europe only has itself to blame for the morass. Trump has been harping on about NATO’s laggards for years, but he hardly invented the genre. American presidents going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower have complained about European allies freeloading on American defense.

What Europeans don’t like to hear is that Trump has a point: They have been freeloading. What’s more, it was always unrealistic to expect the U.S. to pick pick up the tab for European security ad infinitum.

After Trump lost to Biden in 2020, its seemed like everything had gone back to normal, however. Biden, a lifelong transatlanticist, sought to repair the damage Trump did to NATO by letting the Europeans slide back into their comfort zone.  

Even though overall defense spending has increased in recent years in Europe — as it should have, considering Russia’s war on Ukraine — it’s still nowhere near enough. Only 11 of NATO’s 31 members are expected to meet the spending target in 2023, for example, according to NATO’s own data. Germany, the main target of Trump’s ire, has yet to achieve the 2 percent mark. It’s likely to this year, however, if only because its economy is contracting.

The truth is, Europe was lulled back into a false sense of security by Biden’s warm embrace. Instead of going on a war footing by forcing industry to ramp up armament production and reinstating conscription in countries like Germany where it was phased out, Europe nestled itself in Americas skirts.

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