Donald Trump has NATO "scrambling" and "freaking out," insiders report — and this time, it's not by calling the international organization obsolete or a money pit.
Instead, it's because NATO officials have to tailor next month's meeting of the 28 member-nations to the president's infamously short attention span, reports "Foreign Policy" magazine. NATO has asked speakers to limit their remarks to between two and four minutes at a time.
“It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump,” "Foreign Policy" quotes one source as saying. “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing. They’re freaking out.”
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This has led some observers to talk about the president as though he were a finicky eater in the terrible twos. “Even a brief NATO summit is way too stiff, too formal, and too policy heavy for Trump. Trump is not going to like that,” said Jorge Benitez, a NATO expert with the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. Officials do not plan to publish the usual official NATO "meeting declaration" — an expansive volume that summarizes the proceedings, along with new strategies and policy changes — “because they’re worried Trump won’t like it,” another source told "Foreign Policy."
NATO officials are also hashtag panicked. "People are scared of his unpredictability, intimidated by how he might react knowing the president might speak his mind — or tweet his mind,” a former senior NATO official told the magazine.
During the campaign, Trump was loudly critical of NATO, claiming that the United States was paying "billions and billions" and "the lion's share" of the organization's expenses. (Both claims were disproved by fact-checkers.) In an interview with Bloomberg before the campaign, Trump said NATO was "possibly obsolete," before reversing course last month and saying "It's no longer obsolete." During German chancellor Angela Merkel's recent visit to the White House Trump reportedly handed her a fake bill for Germany's share. (White House officials disputed this.)
The meeting will be held on May 25. Two main issues will be discussed: Counterterrorism and burden-sharing of defense spending.
Maybe fidget spinners would help?