Friday, 18 November 2016

Trump Is Right About NATO

Amongst Donald Trumps pre-election complaints, was one about the burden that NATO places on the US economy. Basically his argument is that with so few NATO members bothering to live up to their membership spending commitment of spending 2% of GDP, then the US is having to make up the shortfall with increased spending in areas that are not strategically where the money should go e.g. Battle tanks and bases for Europe, when whey want mobile reaction forces for short interventions in the Middle East or South China seas.

NATO Spending 2013

This of course is the opposite of promises by the Obama regime, to quadruple the US defence expenditure in Europe to counter Russian aggression. So it comes as something of a shock to those Europeans who have been sheltering under a US defence umbrella, that they thought was something of a free ride.  We have commented before on the myth that NATO is club where the burden is shared .... in fact the US, UK and Canada shoulder most of the burden, both financially, and with the numbers of troops deployed.

The US of course carries this burden more than all the other members combined (and then some) and leads the world in defence spending. However China is believed to have been disguising its true expenditure for well over two decades (island building doesn't come cheap). 

Defence Spending Globally 2013

To correct this situation, Pres Elect Trump has simply stated that in future, the US may not rush to the defence of those countries who are not paying their annual fee for joining the NATO club .... acting on the basis that why should American lives be risked to defend countries who don't care to spend even the comparatively small amount that 2% of GDP represents, to defend themselves.

In truth he has a very valid point .... many European countries (including both Germany and France), short change the US and NATO by not spending 2% of their budgets on defence. In fact only the UK, Greece (for historical reasons to do with Turkey), and Estonia actually spend 2% or above of GDP on defence .... the rest breach their commitments by varying degrees, many by huge amounts such as Spain at just 0.9% of budget. The US currently accounts for almost 70% of NATO spending.

Ironically, the 'European' response, apart from wailing and moaning that its a tragedy for Europe, has been to strengthen calls from some federalists such as Jean-Claude Junckers for a EU army (as if that would make any difference), and also for some to point out that the 9/11 attack on the US, was the only time that NATO had ever invoked its self-defence clause .... the one which requires all members to come to the aid of one that is attacked.

Junckers has even gone as far saying that Mr Trump as President could upset EU ties with the US "fundamentally and structurally" .... he somewhat pompously went on "We will need to teach the president-elect what Europe is and how it works" ..... Others have suggested that whomever the US President was, the cost of the defence of Europe would have been subject to review because of this non payment issue.

However the fact is that Mr Trump doesn't need a lesson in "what Europe is and how it works", he simply wants the Europeans to pay for the level of defence that they want from the US by paying their NATO dues correctly.


  1. I think most NATO countries are in for a shock next year. The free lunch is over.

    1. We will see. But I think your right. Thanks for the comment.


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