Donald Trump praises Saudi Arabia and claims he put Nato nations in place about defence spending

The US president called his first foreign trip a 'success' in his weekly address to the nation

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Sunday 04 June 2017 14:19 BST
Donald Trump praised Saudi Arabia and claimed he brought Nato nations in line during his latest weekly address
Donald Trump praised Saudi Arabia and claimed he brought Nato nations in line during his latest weekly address (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In his weekly address, Donald Trump praised Saudi Arabia for fighting extremism in the region and said he was the one to make North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) members spend more on defence.

He said he was responsible for the 28 members of the military alliance "to do more and pay their fair share" to fight terrorism during his visit to the Brussels meeting.

He also praised Saudi Arabia for opening a centre on fighting extremism in the region but ignored the fact that members of the royal family have been found to funnel money to extremists and terror groups as well as the country's dominant faith in the Wahhabism branch of Islam which many see as extreme.

This is why several Muslim groups argued that though Saudi Arabia contains the holy pilgrimage site of Mecca, it is not a true representation of the diversity of the faith globally despite what the White House touted.

Mr Trump also claimed that he created "hundreds of thousands of American jobs" during his Saudi Arabia visit. He failed to mention in the weekly address that this is through one of the largest arms deals in US history - to the tune of $350bn over ten years - and the jobs created would be "highly skilled" per defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

He has touted this fact as if they are the manufacturing and lower skill jobs he repeatedly promised to bring back to economically disadvantaged parts of the US.

Some have argued that US arms sales are a net positive for the US in terms of jobs and influence, however the terms of the deal

Mr Trump described his nine-day trip which included visits to Israel, Italy, and the Vatican as well as an "unprecedented success".

Mr Trump also claimed that he was the catalyst for getting members of Nato spend more on defence to make it more "fair" for the US.

Of the 28 members of the military alliance, only five are meeting the pledge to spend four per cent of GDP on military and defence.

However, Mr Trump kept referring to the increase in spending as "contributions" to the 28-member military alliance, which is not how the organisation operates. Members do not contribute to a common fund to be redistributed to other members.

They spend on defence what they deem necessary for national and regional security and the alliance serves as an important vehicle for in-theatre coordination among militaries.

This was especially true when allies responded to help the US and lost soldiers in Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11th attacks, a fact Mr Trump did not acknowledge during his speech at the summit.

World leaders did not feel Mr Trump's trip was all that successful.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel commented that Europeans can longer rely on the US after Mr Trump returned to the US. Pope Francis had a sour look on his face during his meeting with Mr Trump according to official pictures and presented the President with a 2015 papal letter in which the pontiff explained in nearly 200 pages the need to fight climate change.

Emmanuel Macron, the newly-elected French President, had a tense and awkward handshake with Mr Trump ahead of the Nato summit making it clear the pair did not have a friendly relationship. Mr Macron believed that Mr Trump openly supported the French leaders extreme right wing opponent, Marine Le Pen.

Mr Trump also shoved Duško Marković, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, during a photo opportunity at the Nato summit. Mr Markovic, whose country is the newest member of the alliance, called it a "harmless situation" but it proved to be an embarrassment on the world stage for Mr Trump.

The US president has also received nearly global criticism for his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change this past week, which he did not mention in his weekly address.

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