Donald Trump is essentially acting as a sales representative for weapons companies by threatening to leave NATO if members don't buy US weapons.
Washington, D.C. — U.S. President Donald Trump met with leaders of NATO member states last week in a "very intense" summit in which he reportedly secured commitments from European leaders of NATO member states to increase their weapons expenditures on the military alliance.
Trump reportedly told NATO leaders during the summit that if they failed to meet defense spending targets of a 2 percent GDP by January, 2019, the United States would consider leaving the alliance – which prompted an emergency NATO session.
After the emergency meeting Trump told reporters, "I told people that I'd be very unhappy if they didn't up their financial commitments substantially."
Afterwards, some European leaders, such as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, disputed the claims that an agreement to increase their spending had been reached, while simultaneously proclaiming that their nations "must" increase military spending and NATO funding.
While the "making NATO pay their fair share" schtick scores points with Trump's base, it's clear that the POTUS operates as the chief negotiator for U.S. weapons manufacturers. The increase in international weapons sales orders, particularly from NATO nations, coupled with a dramatic increase in domestic military spending has seen production, from manufacturers like Lockheed Martin, "explode."
Whitney Webb, writing for MintPress News, explained:
The precipitous increase in Lockheed missile sales comes after the launch of Trump's "Buy American" weapons-selling initiative to foreign allies, as well as his efforts to rewrite the government's Conventional Arms Transfer policy and the International Traffic in Arms regulations in order to make it easier to export more military-grade weapons. Lockheed's good fortune following Trump's actions at the recent NATO summit again underscores Trump's role as the U.S.' top weapons salesman.
Underscoring this point, Bob Delgado, director of international business development for integrated air and missile defense at Lockheed, in an interview with Defense News, said the company plans to double its production capacity.
"There is a lot of interest in [Patriot Missiles], so much so we are doubling our capacity," Delgado told Defense News, adding, that although Lockheed was currently meeting demand, "it is getting more difficult as more orders come in, and that is why we are foreseeing, along with the U.S. government, a point where we need to increase our capacity."
Reuters reported that "shares in Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), Boeing (BA.N) and other big U.S. arms makers have seen double-digit percentage rises since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017."
The U.S. defense industry is without question the most prolific arms exporter in the world.
A recently created timelapse video created by data scientist Will Geary using data from the from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Transfers Database, which tracks the movement of major conventional weapons, reveals the flow of U.S. weapons exports across the globe over the past 67 years; from 1950 to 2017.