Home > Chips on Shoulders, General, Politics, Religion, The Dark Side > Who’s going to pay the piper?

Who’s going to pay the piper?

nato gdp 1

President Trump has declared that NATO members must pay their whack. Apparently members ‘should’ be paying 2% of GDP p.a. but very few do, notably Canada, France, Germany and Italy, whose annual subs fall well short. Only Greece, Estonia and Poland pay up alongside the US and UK.

Now, being a simple soul, I think Trump has a point. No doubt the defaulters have long lists of excuses to offer but (as Jazz has kindly observed) I’m a stickler for rules.

At a time when Russia seems intent on reigniting the cold war and reasserting its control of its borders with the EU, are the less enthusiastic NATO countries expressing their apathy, their poverty or wha’?

Answers please on anything saleable.

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  1. February 16, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Being an even simpler soul myself, how come the UK and France liable for for greater contributions than Germany?

  2. February 16, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    They should be clever enough to agree on the rules but don’t follow them.

  3. February 16, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Janus: Don’t know where you got the chart, looks like something the Guardian might have come up with.

    NATO budget is about $2B annually, US pays 22%, Germany 15%, UK and France 10% each. As far as anyone can tell each is paying the appropriate dues.

    The NATO countries have an agreement to fund the NATO budget which is being met by all parties, they have a non-binding target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defence which is met by only those Janus lists (the US spends about 3.6%) Yes it would be a better NATO if the 2% target was met by all countries but they have no obligation to do so

    The chart seems to be a listing of the defence budgets of the listed countries, with a somewhat misleading header listing the total defence budget of the countries of NATO. As the countries each get to spend their budget on items of their own choice this number does not have much meaning.

    James: The defence budget of Germany is about 1% of their GDP, the defence budget of the UK is about 2% of theirs, hence the larger UK number.

    Mr Trump often has trouble with the facts (both kinds).

    Stickler my arse!

  4. February 16, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    James: Germany, technically, is a pacifist country. With the recent except of foreign peace-keeping missions, Germany’s military (te he he) is constitutionally limited to defending Germany’s borders. As Germany does not have equal military competences…

    One complaint that many Yanks have made over the years is that Western European governments built up generous social states on the backs of American largesse. Because the US was willing to arrange for Europe’s defence, European governments could cut back on defence spending. That’s not to say that the Yanks were entirely innocent with their intentions. By keeping them beholden to it, the US could exert a profound influence on their foreign — and even domestic — policies.

  5. February 16, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    LW: The source is NATO. The US pays more than what can reasonably be expected of it. During the Cold War this made sense in a way — the US needed to contain the USSR and the Warsaw Pact countries. There has been no USSR since 1992. Russia has only become prickly because the EU tossed the Soviet-NATO/EC understanding that NATO and “Europe” would not expand east of a reunified Germany’s borders out the window. Even then, Russia is a shadow of what it was during the Soviet era.

  6. February 16, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Christopher: Wherever it comes from it is not the NATO budget, which in 2016 was $2.0B (Google is available).

    The US pays 22% of the budget based on it’s GDP in comparison with the other members, this is exactly in line with it’s obligation no more . The other countries pay according to their domestic GDP.

    That is the agreement. The agreement sets a NON-Binding target of 2% defence spending for each country which the US comfortably meets, the majority of counties in the alliance do not. But they all meet their required contributions to the Alliance budget.

  7. February 16, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I’m far from convinced that the Russians do want to re ignite the Cold War. On the contrary I think they want to join in with the rest of us. All that nonsense in Ukraine was started by the EU de stabilising a corrupt, incompetent yet legitimately elected govt. Well they got that overthrown and replaced with an unelected incompetent and corrupt govt. Go figure; as the Americans say.
    The Crimea which is just about 100% populated by ethnic Russians decided they’d rather be part of Mother Russia and I don’t blame them.
    And of course Russia is an important part of Nato’s portfolio of enemies.

  8. christinaosborne
    February 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I can understand that both Germany and Japan were circumscribed after WWII to defence only.
    However, that is now a long long time ago. Perhaps it is time they picked up more of the price? I expect their constitutions would need to be amended.
    If any money is to be saved surely the UN must be the biggest talk fest waster of loot going! Useless bunch.

  9. February 16, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    CO: You are correct, it would require constitutional changes. In Germany it is almost impossible in political terms. The Federal Republic is by its very definition a pacifist, anti-militarist state. There is little reason for Germany to change. Who are Germany’s enemies? Who is threatening to invade Germany? What interests does Germany have that diplomacy and trade can’t support and defend? For Japan to amend its constitution to allow for its participation in collective self-defence outside Japanese territory took years and years. It is politically and diplomatically toxic. Even that very modest change created diplomatic hell with China and Korea.

  10. February 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    LW, the chart is NATO’s, showing total spend ever, not annually. Seems a valid measure of support or lack of it.

    Please leave your arse out of this! 🤓

  11. christinaosborne
    February 16, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Does it actually really matter whether the pie graph is absolute or not? And whence it came?
    Surely the more significant data is the percentage of GDP spent on defence and how much of that is committed to NATO, bit like how long is a piece of string!
    About the only thing we really know for sure is that Germany and Japan don’t pay full whack because of their constitutions which is our fault in the West for not altering the post WWII situation in keeping with modern times. Had America and Europe removed their bases there something might have been done.
    Probably the only thing that would get them moving is if Russia and North Korea started acting up for real by which time it would be too late by far. Horses and drinking troughs come to mind!
    Looks like our own fault one more time just like the treaty of Versailles!
    Seemingly very easy to win the war and lose the peace.

  12. February 16, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    You’ll find that Russia is not as aggressive as it’s made out to be. It is militarily weak and any show of force highlights whatever failures a country’s military has. Russia’s tremendous domestic pressures keep it pre-occupied enough. In Ukraine it’s been waging a proxy war. Far less expensive and even the most out-dated military equipment in the hands of even half-trained chimpanzees can cause enough damage to make a point. That, and it proves the point that for all the billions in Western largesse it’s received, the Ukrainian military can’t even effectively quell a regional civil war fought on the cheap. North Korea is, similarly, a very weak country. It’s kept alive by the Chinese to serve as a distraction and provide some 207.29 miles between their border and the US military. That, and they simply don’t want millions of half-starved, delirious North Koreans pouring over the Yalu. They can’t even manage the problems they already have effectively.

  13. February 16, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    I was wrong about the Guardian it was Bernie Sanders

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/apr/19/bernie-s/sanders-oversimplifies-us-share-NATO/

    Amounts listed are total defence budgets (2015) of the countries and have NO relation to their contribution to NATO either past present or total.

  14. February 17, 2017 at 6:58 am

    That’s cleared that up then, I hope. 🙂 Now what was the question? Oh yes:
    are the less enthusiastic NATO countries expressing their apathy, their poverty or wha’?

  15. February 17, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Christopher,
    Could it be that Mrs M is attempting to circumvent the need for any such constitutional changes by “reluctantly agreeing” to the need for the formation of the recently proposed combined European military force? While this would, of course, be officially under the control of the EU, all of us who live in the real world know that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

  16. February 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

    James: The EU “Army” is, in the end, a damp squib. It’s been watered down to a joint-command that re

  17. February 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

    For some reason the previous comment magically posted itself.

    The EU “Army” isn’t so much an army as it is a damp squib. It’s been watered-down to being a joint-fighting force which supplements, but does not replace, domestic military forces. It requires unanimous agreement to be used and regiments will remain under national command. It’s a glorified border patrol, in the end.

  18. February 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Janus: There are no “less enthusiastic” NATO members, they each contribute according to the agreement.

    Any amount they spend or do not spend on their own defence does not affect NATO in any way.

    The member countries of NATO can at any time collectively increase the NATO budget, the funding will come proportionally from all the members (as it does now). Germany (or any other member) can increase it’s own defence budget but any such increase will not affect the NATO budget or it’s funding.

    Would NATO be more effective with a bigger budget, perhaps, but it has not significantly increased it’s spending over time, and the decision is entirely NATO’s to make.

  19. February 18, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Isn’t Trump’s beef that members of the club need to up their game, pay bigger contributions (by agreement of course)?

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