Among NATO’s larger economies, the 2014 hall of shamers include Germany (1.2%), the Netherlands (1.2%), Italy (1.1%), Canada (1%) and Spain (0.9%). Last year the U.S. accounted for 70% of all spending in NATO. Yet American defense spending is also on a downward slope. In 2015 U.S. defense outlays will amount to 3.6% of GDP, according to NATO, down from an average of 4.4% in George W. Bush’s second term.
TheLocal.no quotes Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg:
If I’m allowed to speak: I think the the percentage goal is nonsense,” she said. “The aim of the NATO countries must be the greatest possible defence capability, not a percentage goal in itself.”
Solberg may be correct, but it is hard to determine commitment to the common defense alliance when the countries putatively involved in the alliance fail to follow the guidelines suggested.
The United States itself cannot really afford the current levels of spending on defense and entitlements, especially after our disaster in Iraq, which has reaped negative returns for our security, along with our sluggish return from the housing recession. President Obama’s 10-year budget (see page 3) adds $5.6 trillion to the current $18 trillion debt. The United States goes deeper into the debt hole while Europe props ups its expansive social welfare schemes. The United States also has serious issues with its own welfare state, our education system, and infrastructure.
Now, with Russia having engaged in aggressive action in Ukraine, and along the border (and inside of?) NATO allies such as Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, the United States and NATO’s ability to commonly defend these countries comes into focus.
My view is that strategic opponents of the United States are well aware of the lack of commitment, and frankly, are aware of the basic inability of NATO to repel Russian aggression in the Baltic states. Who believes that Greece, at the point of fiscal default, will muster support for a foreign campaign of defense, when even richer countries won’t meet the agreed upon guidelines?
In the current circumstances, NATO is a huge liability for the United States without any clear upside.
Withdrawal of the United States from NATO should be on the table. We could then choose our military engagements as a matter of public policy, and not as a commitment to treaty partners who are half-hearted in their commitment at best.
Rather than putting resources into Europe, we should be withdrawing them as long as NATO members fail to support NATO. To do otherwise, is to provide a defense bailout of Europe along the lines of Europe’s efforts to bailout Greece.