(CNSNews.com) - President Trump hadn't even met with the NATO allies, when his straight talk about Germany being a "captive of Russia" produced indignation, if not outrage, among the diplomatic set and the liberal media elite.
At a breakfast meeting in Belgium with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump thumped Germany for buying oil and gas from Russia -- the country that NATO was formed to protect against.
"You're just making Russia richer," Trump said. "I think trade is wonderful. I think energy is a whole different story."
Trump noted that countries like Poland refuse to buy Russian energy "because they don't want to be captive to Russia. But Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia. So we're supposed to protect Germany, but they're getting their energy from Russia. Explain that," the president said.
The press was then escorted from the room.
President Trump went to the NATO meeting complaining about NATO members' failure to pay their fair share for their defense.
Trump began his criticism of the German-Russia energy deal by telling Stoltenberg, "I think it's sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia, where you're supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia."
So we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries, and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia, where they’re paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia.
So we're supposed to protect you against Russia, but they're paying billions of dollars to Russia, and I think that's very inappropriate. And the former chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that's supplying the gas. Ultimately Germany will have almost 70 percent of their country controlled by Russia with natural gas.
So you tell me, is that appropriate?
Trump said "it should never have been allowed to happen," and he noted that he's been complaining about the situation since he took office:
"And I think it's a very bad thing for NATO and I don't think it should have happened and I think we have to talk to Germany about it. Trump noted that Germany is just paying just a little over 1 percent of its GDP in NATO dues, whereas the United States is paying 4.2 percent in "actual numbers" of a much larger GDP.
"We're protecting everybody, and yet, we're paying a lot to protect," he noted.
"Now this has been going on for decades. This has been brought up by other presidents. But other president never did anything about it because I don't think they understood it or they just didn’t want to get involved.
"But I have to bring it up because I think it's very unfair to our country, it's very unfair to our taxpayer. And I that think these countries have to step it up --not over a ten-year period, they have to step it up immediately. Germany is a rich country..."
Trump said the U.S. cannot and will not put up with NATO members shirking their fair share of the financial requirement for their own defense.
Reaction was instantaneous and predictable from the diplomatic elite, including Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO.
"It's just infuriating to watch this happen," Burns told MSNBC's "Morning Joe":
You cannot imagine any American president all the way back 75 years deciding to become the critic-in-chief of NATO. I mean, it's Orwellian. He's making our friends out to be our enemies and he's treating our enemies like Putin as our friends. And he's misrepresenting the facts. There have been four straight years of budget increases by every NATO ally. The great majority of them will be at this magical 2 percent of gross domestic product level by 2024.
All of our ability to project power in the world, in the Middle East and Afghanistan comes out of the air bases, Ramstein, Incirlic, Aviano, the naval bases in Italy and Spain that the Europeans pay for. They pay us $2.5 billion a year to keep our forces there. It would cost us more money to bring the troops home than to keep them in Europe.
So what is the point of this? It's all about politics, and the president's base. It's not about the power of the United States. This incredible alliance that we've built, and every president from Truman, it's infuriating to see this happen. It's diplomatic malpractice.