As European and North American leaders prepare for an annual summit at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, thousands of Europeans took to the streets to express their displeasure with the presence of U.S. President Donald Trump at the upcoming meetings.
Also on Saturday, the Washington Post said that Trump’s approach toward NATO could have “catastrophic consequences.”
The activists’ march through the streets of Brussels was called “The Trump Not Welcome March.” It appears that the primary issues the protesters hoped to address were more obtaining more government funding for public schools and more government support for clean energy sources.
Last week Trump accused our NATO allies of not spending enough money on defense, and said that each country in NATO needs to do more to defend themselves. He also demanded that all NATO countries increase their military budgets to help the U.S. bear the burden of military defense of Western Europe. There is a fear that he will disrupt this summit the way he did the G-7 summit in Canada last month.
The protesters and organizers of “The Trump Not Welcome March” openly and loudly oppose more military spending, however.
The crowd carried many different types of banners, saying such things as “NATO Game Over” and“Pro-America, Anti-Trump.” Some protesters waved rainbow banners while others carried Palestinian flags and others had banners asking to keep immigrant families together or for an end to racism and sexism.
Trump’s protectionist trade policies with new tariffs, and his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord have upset many of the NATO leaders he will meet with at the summit on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
Trump’s aggressive stance toward NATO allies has created tensions in advance of the meeting. He wrote letters to the leaders of Denmark, Norway, Canada and Germany in June to pressure them to increase military spending, saying “the United States is increasingly unwilling to ignore the European failure to meet shared security commitments.”
After Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 the NATO countries agreed to stop cutting defense budgets and raise them back to the required level of 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product for each country.
On Saturday night the Editorial Board of The Washington Post published a scathing editorial called “Trump is bent on wrecking NATO. Prepare for catastrophe.”
According to the Post:
“Trump has kept security officials across Europe sleepless in anticipation of a possible blowup like he initiated at last month’s Group of Seven meeting.”
“The fear is not only that Mr. Trump will spoil the “unity” of the summit with harangues before flying to Helsinki for a far friendlier meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is that, having shrugged off the strong support for NATO among his national security team, he is bent on wrecking a multilateral organization he regards as obsolete and a means for European nations to freeload at the expense of the United States.”
“What the president ought to avoid is making a show of discord with the European allies as a prelude to a relations-mending summit with Mr. Putin. That would be not just unseemly but dangerous: It could cause the Russian leader to conclude that he might get away with a new round of aggression in Europe. Mr. Trump seems not to understand that maligning America’s allies while embracing its adversaries is more than a political game; it could have catastrophic consequences.”
The protesters in the streets of Brussels and the editors of the Washington Post all agree that Donald Trump is a threat to the global order, to world peace, and to the Western Alliance. He needs to be stopped before he commits more treason in his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin which is very dangerous because Trump is growing more desperate as special counsel Robert Mueller closes in on him and threatens the very existence of his presidency.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.