Saturday, March 25, 2017

NATO members have realized money is wasted defending an unrealistic Russian threat

The Inequity of the NATO Defense Budget

NATO members have realized money is wasted defending an unrealistic Russian threat

President Donald Trump has recently declared that Germany should pay back supposed debts to the United States for NATO defense funding. Unfortunately for Trump, this is not Germany’s problem, but that of the United States.
The U.S. has been footing the lion’s share of NATO defense expenses for decades. NATO guidelines call for member states to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense; the U.S. spends 3.61% while countries like France, Germany, and Italy fall below the requirements. While economic burdens make it difficult for many member states to meet the requirement, the U.S. has been more than willing to foot the bill in their stead.
But the U.S. has overlooked the real issue for long enough. Instead of demanding that Germany repay for their lack of support, the U.S. should concentrate on decreasing its own spending on other nations’ defense. While NATO provides the U.S. with a valuable network of allies, there are no immediate threats to the security of Europe that demand such substantive military aid.
Many government hawks are promoting the idea that Russia is intent on conquering Europe, and that NATO should thus spend more on defense. This is nothing more than paranoia; Russia just cut its defense spending by 7%, and the country’s economy has been severely weakened since oil prices dropped. Russia is not in a position where it can commit to a full-scale invasion of Western Europe.
NATO was designed to combat the Russian threat early in the Cold War. With this threat obsolete, so is the structure of NATO. Missile defense networks and ballistic missile submarines do not defend member nations from more modern threats like terrorism; this is a job done by joint-intelligence and troops trained in non-conventional warfare.
Military spending in Europe for defense against the outdated threat of conventional war is a waste of the defense budget. It seems that many European countries have realized this, yet the U.S. continues to push for NATO expansion into Montenegro and Eastern Europe. Neither the safety of the United States nor that of Europe will be improved by such measures.
Although NATO should not be dissolved as Trump has mentioned before, its mission and objective should be adjusted considerably. The benefits of the collaboration between the intelligence and military communities of each member state are not to be overlooked; joint intelligence has undeniably been a vital component of the fight against global terrorism.
The mission of NATO should no longer be aimed at defending its members against Soviet tanks rolling across the iron curtain, or ensuring mutually assured destruction through nuclear weapons. The U.S. should decrease its conventional military presence in Europe, and instead utilize NATO for more realistic counter-terrorism purposes.
Because NATO members seem to have realized that their money is wasted on defending against an unrealistic Russian threat, the United States cannot blame countries like Germany for not footing their share of the bill. The U.S. should concentrate more on decreasing spending towards an obsolete and wasteful defense network rather than complaining about European parsimoniousness.

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