What Donald Trump does, and doesn’t, get right about Nato spending

A empty chair where Donald Trump should be.

It’s become fashionable to say Trump has a point about Nato spending. But the contention doesn’t quite stand up.

Does Donald Trump have a point after all? That’s become a commonplace phrase among defence and security experts, who deplore the rest of Trump’s agenda, fear he will destroy American democracy as we know it, and believe that he is a threat to multilateral organisations that he is right to say that many of the nations of Nato are letting the United States foot the bill for their defence commitments.

One civil servant recently described Trump as “incidentally correct”: his motivations and his worldview are, on this narrow subject, leading him to the correct conclusion, which is that most of the nations of Nato are taking liberties with defence spending.

It’s true that very few nations in Nato hit the target of spending two per cent of their GDP on defence. Germany, the richest nation in Europe, spends 1.4 per cent. The United Kingdom barely hits the two per cent target and does so through partially through some heroic assumptions about what is and isn’t defence spending. France, the third member of Nato to have its own nuclear deterrent (aside from the US and UK) also does not meet the two per cent target. The United States meanwhile spends 3.6 per cent on defence and it will rise to in excess of four per cent in the next fiscal year.

But the problem with the “Nato states are letting the United States foot the bill for their own defence” meme is that it isn’t quite true. For the first part, the bulk of the United States’ defence spending is not on anything that could plausibly be described as the defence of Nato members, but for the defence of American interests in other theatres, …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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