Op-Ed: Trump says NATO has made great strides in ridiculous Afghan war

Posted Apr 3, 2019 by Ken Hanly
While Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of NATO and has demanded that members increase their defense spending he claimed yesterday that NATO had made great strides in Afghanistan while the war was also unfortunate and ridiculous.
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White Hou...
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House
Trump says contradictory things about NATO and Afghan war
An article in put the matter concisely: "Whenever President Trump is dealing with NATO issues, there is always the question of whether Trump is going to praise NATO as the greatest thing since sliced bread, mock them as a relic of the past, or somehow manage to do both at once. "
In his recent meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Trump managed to do both at once with contradictory or at least contrasting statements. NATO is celebrating its 70th anniversary but Trump has often spoken as if the organization is of little value given his America First policy. He is often bitter about the fact that few members reach the alliance goal of contributing 2 percent of their GDP to finance NATO.
At one and the same time Trump claimed that NATO together with its allies had made "great strides in Afghanistan" but that the war itself was "unfortunate" and "ridiculous". The Trump administration has been seeking a peace deal with the Taliban who were ousted from power back in 2001 but have been fighting back ever since.
Stoltenberg Trump relations
Stoltenberg praises Trump ignoring negative aspects of Trump's behavior such as that in a NATO summit last July where he insulted members and made false claims. Stoltenberg applauded what he called Trump's strong leadership in "burden-sharing" in the alliance and said he had created a new sense of urgency in debating NATO's military budgets.
However, on Monday Stoltenberg pointed out that NATO members differed on many issues but that such disagreements were neither new or unusual in an alliance with democratic members. Trump has been pushing for countries who host US troops to pay more towards their upkeep even suggesting at one point a "Cost Plus 50" where governments would not only pay the full costs of US troops being hosted but a 50 percent premium as well.
There are also differences in NATO as to how to deal with Russia. So far the alliance has agreed with Trump in blaming the Russians for the failure of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that in February Trump announced he would withdraw from. However, on Tuesday Trump said: “I think we’ll get along with Russia.”