While the U.S. outspends all NATO allies when it comes to overall defence spending in relation to her GDP, Statista's Dyfed Loesche notes - and President Trump is very well aware of - the U.S. is also the prime direct financer of NATO.
However, direct contribution are more evenly split between the major NATO powers. Germany for example, spends only 1.19 percent of her GDP into defence (USA = 3.61 percent) but seemingly pulls its weight when it comes to direct funding of NATO. This does not include contributions to particular military operations.
This chart shows direct financial contributions to the running of NATO (in million U.S. dollars)
You will find more statistics at Statista
As George Friedman recently noted, Europeans must face two facts...
First, the wars that matter to the US are being fought in the Islamic world. Second, Europe is not struggling to recover from World War II. Its military capabilities should be equal to those of the US.
NATO is obsolete if it defines its responsibility mainly to repel a Russian invasion. Especially since it refused to create a military force capable of doing that. It is obsolete in that it regards the US as the guarantor of Europe’s security when Europe is quite capable of incurring the cost of self-defense.
If European nations are free to follow their own interests, then so is the United States.
When we step back, we see a broader truth. First, the European Union is breaking. Europe is in no position to do unanimously supported NATO operations. For the Europeans, NATO is important because it means that, in the rare chance of a European war, the US must be there.
The United States wants to stop Russian hegemony over the European Peninsula. But the US can deal with that by placing limited forces in the Baltics, Poland, and Romania. The Europeans have devolved NATO into bilateral relations between the US and each NATO member. So, the United States can do the same. Also, the US can accept the status quo in Ukraine, written or unwritten. The US is not going to war in Ukraine. Russia is not going to war there either.
Trump’s approach to NATO has been forced on the US by the Europeans. NATO doesn’t work as an alliance. It is a group of sovereign nations that will respond to American requests as they see fit. The US knows this and at some point, someone was going to point out that NATO is obsolete.
The matter can be summed up the following way. What is the commitment of European countries to the United States? And what is the US commitment to Europe?
It is not clear that there is a geopolitical basis for this commitment any more. Interests have diverged. NATO is not suited to the realities of today.