President Donald Trump often decries Europe’s NATO nations for their lack of seriousness about their defense, and he zealously insists that they honor their commitment to spend 2% of their national GDP on defense. It’s arguable that Trump could ease off (a little bit) and acknowledge the progress he’s made in getting Europe’s NATO members to boost their spending.
But only a little bit because those nations don’t appear to be stepping up in any serious way, as these numbers from a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed demonstrate.
Overall inflation-adjusted military spending by every NATO member excluding America grew 1.8% in 2015, 3.1% in 2016, and 4.8% last year.
These are tokens, not real increases. A nation committing 1% of its GDP to defense that then increases its defense spending by these per centages will end up committing 1.11% of its GDP. There’s nothing serious about that.
Germany’s defense spending increase? The WSJ says that nation currently is spending 1.2% of its GDP on its defense, and it has plans for a 6% increase in next year’s budget. Increasing that 1.2% by 6% would take it all the way up to 1.27%.
Be still, my heart.