Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Truth about the NATO defense commitments

Credit: NATO

On September 5, 2014 the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Wales issued a declaration that among other things stated the following:

Taking current commitments into account, we are guided by the following considerations:
    • Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense will aim to continue to do so. Likewise, Allies spending more than 20% of their defense budgets on major equipment, including related Research & Development, will continue to do so.
    • Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defense is below this level will:
      • halt any decline in defense expenditure;
      • aim to increase defense expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
      • aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO's capability shortfalls.

Allies will review national progress annually. This will be discussed at future Defense Ministerial meetings and reviewed by Heads of State and Government at future Summits.

That pledge appears to be holding: The alliance as a whole increased defense spending for the first time in two decades in 2015.

And in 2016, 22 of 28 NATO members increased their defense budgets. The group increased its spending by 3.8% in 2016. Including the U.S., overall spending rose by 2.9%.  2017 contributions are estimated to continue to increase.

Obviously, this was before the election of Trump.  

Both President Bush and President Obama had appealed to NATO members for increased contributions, but countries only began to abide by commitments made during a 2014 agreement during the Obama administration.  To be fair, I’m certain whether President Obama convinced countries  to fork over greater investments, whether Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine helped to tip the scales or both.  The one thing I’m certain of, Trump had nothing to do with it.

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