President Donald Trump’s supposedly short attention span has NATO reworking its usual summit discussion format ahead of his first sit-down with the international organization later this month, Foreign Policy reported Monday, citing current NATO and former senior U.S. officials.
The report appeared on the same day as a Politico article on how the president’s staffers feed him news and routinely monitor him in an effort to head off angry tweets.
According to Foreign Policy, NATO wants some of the world’s top leaders to cut down their discussions to two to four minutes, and one unidentified source said organizers for the May 25 meeting were “freaking out.”
“It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump,” a source with knowledge of the meeting’s planning said. “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child—someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing.”
Still, other officials admitted there is some reason behind their prognostication about Trump’s attention span, with one former senior official saying the NATO meetings can be “painfully dull.”
At least one major change is on tap: Even though the next meeting isn’t considered a full summit, NATO officials decided against following their regular practice of publishing a full, formal meeting declaration, out of fear Trump may not like the idea.
The president’s use of Twitter also reportedly has NATO officials on edge, as does his avowed attitude toward the 28-member body during his campaign last year and after he took the oath of office. Specifically, Trump demanded that NATO members pay their agreed upon contributions to the group’s defense fund, for which the U.S. supplied 3.61 percent of its annual gross domestic product last year. Only four other countries met the 2 percent guideline for NATO’s defense expenditures last year.
Perhaps in order to keep Trump’s attention, officials told Foreign Policy that they will attempt to focus on counterterrorism and the defense budgets, two areas of interest to the president.
The report about NATO’s preparations follows a Politico article that cites four White House officials saying someone on Trump’s staff offered him two Time magazine covers. One, from 2008, was about global warming, while the other, supposedly from the 1970s, was a fake cover about a coming ice age. Because staffers were afraid the president would take the hoax to be real, they intervened before the president could take to his Twitter account.