Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday he believed in NATO but President Donald Trump was right to call for European nations to pay their fair share for defense.
“The world is dangerous, whether you’re talking about terrorism in the Middle East, you’re talking about aggressive Russia, you’re talking about Chinese investments in advance of technology — and the Europeans have to be part of the team,” Gingrich told Harris Faulkner on Fox News.
Gingrich, 75, is the former Georgia Republican congressman who was speaker from 1995 to 1999.
“They can’t just rely on the United States to carry the whole way.
“I would much rather see NATO survive, but I don’t think that we should refuse to tell the truth — that, somehow, we are going to hurt their feelings,” he said.
At the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels on Wednesday, President Trump called on allies to raise their defense spending to 4 percent of economic output.
Trump’s suggestion, though informal and made in a closed-door session with allied leaders, did little to ease tensions at an already charged meeting.
The president had already accused Germany of being a “captive” to Russia over its support for the planned 800-mile Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, though he later said after meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel that the U.S. had “a tremendous relationship with Germany.”
“They like each other, but Chancellor Merkel is an old professional politician,” Gingrich told Faulkner. “She is used to dealing with lots of different people.”
He said he doubted whether any rift between Trump and Merkel was personal.
“It is a fundamental difference about how Europe has been run and how it is going to change with president trump as a leader.
“The Italians, frankly, they are increasingly hostile about it,” he explained. “So, you have a period of real change here.
“I don’t know how many of them want to pick a fight with Angela Merkel.
“I think it is very healthy for the American president to stand up and to tell the truth, and that is what he has done basically.”
Looking to Trump’s visit later this week with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Gingrich said the recent shake-ups in her government has her “negotiating from a position of weakness.”
“A lot of other economies not doing as well, and a lot of people are not at all happy with Angela Merkel’s policy of accepting so many refugees.
“So, the tension there is very great.
“President Trump is coming in, offering a different way forward, a different approach, much more candid approach — and I think that you are going to see a real split.”
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