The 2018 NATO summit was held on Wednesday and Thursday, July 11 and 12 in Brussels.

President Donald Trump made it a fiery one, indeed.

First Lady Melania Trump, since recovered from her kidney operation, accompanied her husband. (Breitbart has fashion notes.) They left the White House on July 10:

Both looked to be in robust health, especially the president:

In the video above, Trump answered a few questions from the press. He predicted that, out of NATO, his Brexit-oriented trade meetings in the UK and Putin summit, his discussions with the Russian president would be the easiest of the three.

This is historical background on why Trump is upset with NATO countries:

In fact, NATO published figures supporting that claim on July 10. Of particular note is Graph 5 on page 4 of the PDF. There’s a good NATO chart here.

An article from The Federalist, ‘Trump Is Not To Blame for NATO Chaos, Nor Breaking the Liberal Order’, explains the situation in full, recalling not only NATO’s history but also that of the ancient world. Author Sumantra Maitra, a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, explodes the two myths. It’s well worth reading in full. Excerpts follow.

First, on Trump’s not being to blame for NATO chaos, he says (emphases mine):

NATO enlargement post-Cold War was essentially a push from the liberal internationalist lobby within the Clinton administration, led by Madeleine Albright and backed by the German leaders like Volker Rühe. Evidence suggests there was significant academic opposition to NATO expansion during that time, including from the father of the strategy of Cold War containment, George F Kennan. He said NATO expansion would end up being the greatest blunder of our times

Also, the cost-benefit analysis of providing an American taxpayer-funded security umbrella to corrupt, violent smaller countries not only is a heavy and needless burden based on a flawed strategy but encourages those smaller countries to risk conflict assuming that American cavalry is just around the hills

If European powers want American protection, then they should follow American rules and share the burden. Else, they are free to find their own ways.

As for the second myth, there has never been a particular philosophical ‘order’ that governed NATO:

There is no evidence that there ever was a “rule-based order” for Trump to now arguably destroy. Research suggests the liberal order was a myth and a nostalgia about a world that never was. Hard military power is what always mattered on this planet as a guarantee of freedom. Trump is just blunt, genuinely conservative, and mercantile enough to remind us of that.

The European Union and some European countries claim that Russia is a gigantic threat and they need more commitment from the United States. The reality is that Trump’s administration armed the Ukrainians with lethal weapons, re-established the Second Fleet, smoked out 200 Russians in Syria in one day, and told Germans (yes, Germans) to stop the Nord Stream pipeline. Europeans, on the other hand, refuse flatly to pay their fair share for their defense and even refuse to lead America in cutting off the Russian gas supply. It’s quite natural, therefore, that EU technocrats’ protests sound hypocritical to an average American taxpayer.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) would agree with that assessment:

Trump’s friend in England, Nigel Farage, would also agree that member countries are not paying their fair share:

Trump tweeted about this several times before he left. Germany contributes only 1% (the US contributes 4%). Some accounts say that the US is paying for 90% of NATO. Therefore, NATO countries must pay more, the US less. Many countries are also delinquent in their past NATO contributions; will they reimburse the US for paying the balance?

In addition, member nations also want to hammer the US with tariffs:

However, another Donald — EU president Tusk from Poland — published a rebuttal to Trump’s claims on the European Council site on July 10. He also read them publicly. His remarks are excerpted below:

Speaking on the eve of the NATO summit here in Brussels, I would like to address President Trump directly, who for a long time now has been criticising Europe almost daily for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defence capabilities, and for living off the US. Dear President Trump: America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today Europeans spend on defence many times more than Russia, and as much as China

I would therefore have two remarks here. First of all, dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many. And, dear Europe, spend more on your defence, because everyone respects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped …

Dear Mr President, please remember about this tomorrow, when we meet at the NATO summit, but above all when you meet president Putin in Helsinki. It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend? And who is your strategic problem?

The Trumps arrived that day at Melsbroek Air Base near Brussels:

Streets in Brussels were closed to the public for security reasons as the US motorcade sped through:

The next tweet ended with a Q-type statement, further leading me to think that Q is travelling with the president. Q has not commented since Wednesday, July 4:

This was Trump’s schedule for Wednesday, November 11:

The American contingent prepared for the summit in Brussels. Chief of Staff John Kelly is on the right, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on the left:

Earlier that morning, Trump made known his concern for American farmers:

I wonder if Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg (left hand centre, opposite Trump) …

… knew how hot that morning’s breakfast would be:

Here’s the background:

This diagram, courtesy of Gazprom, shows the current and future Nord Stream pipelines:

This is Trump’s perspective …

… included in one of his hot breakfast servings:

The Daily Mail has looked into the situation and confirms that the above is true:

Donald Trump‘s claim that Germany imports 70 per cent of its gas from Russia at a fiery Nato summit today is correct – and the country will soon receive even more.  

The EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, says that Russia is responsible for up to 75% of Germany’s total gas imports.

And experts say that figure could dramatically increase after a new pipeline between Russia and Germany opens in two years time …

Donald Trump also questioned the role of the former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who is now working for Gazprom.

Schroeder signed the deal for Nord Stream in haste after being ousted by Angela Merkel in a narrow election defeat in 2005.

Just weeks after leaving office, however, he started overseeing the implementation of the project for Gazprom.  

Schroeder took up position as head of Nord Stream AG’s shareholder committee and has worked for the gas behemoth ever since.

The former politician is rumoured to have been paid millions by Gazprom and is set to pocket even more with the announcement of the second phase of the Nord Stream project.

Before the summit officially began that afternoon, President and Mrs Trump spent time at the Tri-Mission Embassy spreading good will:

When everyone gathered at NATO headquarters, there was a group photo shot. Look at the matching royal blue colour scheme of Theresa May and Angela Merkel (0:22 mark, photo here). The woman in red is Croatia’s president:

This was the scene that afternoon at NATO headquarters:

Trump held private meetings with Germany (yes, they discussed the pipeline) and France (remarks here; earlier, Macron hugged his surrogate papa):

This, by the way, is Germany’s military readiness at the moment:

Oddly, while America’s powerful oppose Trump, e.g. most of the US Senate, his popularity rating is above that of most NATO leaders:

Trump’s Brexit friend Nigel Farage agrees:

The following photo shows that Croatia’s president has eyes for Trump (in the nicest possible way):

As the FIFA World Cup was drawing to a close, she gave personalised Croatian football shirts to NATO leaders. (Croatia beat England. Then France beat Croatia 4-2 on Sunday, July 15. France’s last World Cup win was in 1998.)

Returning to official NATO business, Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will assume the command of the NATO training mission in Iraq.

While the NATO leaders met and held separate meetings, separate events were planned for their spouses who renewed friendships and spent time together:

The summit continued that evening at the historic Parc du Cinquantenaire, home to Belgium’s Royal Museums of Art and History:

The EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker was not at his best for the opening ceremony:

Juncker has form. Those who defended him online say he has sciatica. If he did, no doubt more attendees would have leapt to support him physically, but they did not. This is what happened after everyone left the dais:

Mrs Trump’s wardrobe was of interest:

Trump was still upset heading into Day 2:

This was Trump’s schedule for July 12:

Before leaving that day, he held an impromptu press conference (YouTube video):

He referred to himself the way Admiral Ronny Jackson did earlier this year after giving him his health exam. From the transcript:

Q Thank you. We understand your message, but some people ask themselves, will you be tweeting differently once you board the Air Force One? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: No, that’s other people that do that. I don’t. I’m very consistent. I’m a very stable genius. (Laughter.)

As for the NATO summit:

Q Mr. President, I’m Tara McKelvey with the BBC. Can you tell us whether or not you warned people that the U.S. would pull out of NATO if they weren’t meeting their spending goals?

THE PRESIDENT: I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially, because the United States has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO. And now, people are going to start and countries are going to start upping their commitments. So I let them know yesterday, actually. I was surprised that you didn’t pick it up; it took until today. But yesterday, I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment, yeah. And now we’re very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago

Q President Trump, Ryan Chilcote, PBS NewsHour. Did you win concessions in your meetings and discussions with the German Chancellor when it comes to German defense spending and also with this issue of purchasing energy from Russia? And secondly, what would you say to your critics that say by creating this scene here at NATO you’re only enabling President Putin and Russia to further disturb things in Ukraine and Georgia?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if you consider putting up tremendously — you know, the additional funds at a level that nobody has ever seen before, I don’t think that’s helping Russia. I think that NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago. I think that NATO was not doing what they were supposed to be doing — a lot of the countries. And we were doing much more than we should have been doing.

Frankly, we were carrying too much of a burden. That’s why we call it “burden-sharing.” I was using the term a lot today. “Burden-sharing.” We had a fantastic meeting at the end — 29 countries. And they are putting up a lot. Germany has increased very substantially their time period, and Germany is coming along. And we still have to figure out what’s going on with the pipeline, because the pipeline is coming in from Russia.

So we’re going to have to figure that out. I brought it up; nobody brought it up but me, and we all are talking about it now. And actually, I think the world is talking about it now maybe more than anything else. But we’re going to figure that out.

But — and, frankly, maybe everybody is going to have a good relationship with Russia so there will be a lot less problem with the pipeline. But, to me, that was a very major point of contention. We discussed it at length today. Germany has agreed to do a lot better than they were doing, and we’re very happy with that. We had a very good relationship with Angela Merkel.

On Monday, July 16, in Helsinki, Trump told the Finnish president Sauli Niinistö over their breakfast meeting that NATO has never been stronger.