All NATO members should pay fair share

Last last month, after President Donald Trump suggested European countries should start paying their fair share of the cost of NATO, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lashed out at Americans.

Europeans no longer can rely on other nations standing by them in times of military peril, Merkel said in a speech. Germany and others in Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

Clearly, Merkel meant that as a slap at the United States.

Seventy-three years ago this week, Americans by the thousands were falling in battle during the D-Day invasion of Europe — to free the continent from the Nazi yoke. More than 407,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members perished in World War II.

Nearly a century ago, on June 25, 1917, American doughboys began landing in France, on their way to battle against other German troops. More than 116,000 Americans died in that mission to rescue Europe.

During the Cold War, as many as 450,000 American servicemen and women were stationed in Europe. Today, about 67,000 remain integral parts of NATO.

More than 53,000 of those Americans are stationed in Germany. The military has a word for their intended purpose: tripwire.

No one thinks that, should Russia invade Germany, those 53,000 U.S. troops could stop the Red Army. Their mission is merely to remind Moscow that if it attacks Germany, the Americans would serve as a tripwire activating a massive U.S. response.

Merkel’s temper tantrum is in reaction to Trump’s insistence that NATO members pay their fair share of defense costs. She — and many others in Europe — do not like that idea.

Perhaps that is because the vast majority of NATO members pay so little in comparison to the United States.

NATO’s own yardstick calls for member nations to spend 2 percent or more of their gross domestic products on defense. The United States exceeds the requirement easily.

Only three other nations — the United Kingdom, Estonia and Greece — meet NATO’s own criteria. Merkel should be ashamed of herself. Let us hope she has at least the decency to refrain from indulging her pique for one day this month in remembrance of June 6, 1944, the day on which those of many nations mourned for those they sent to the beach on D-Day.