Friday, February 03, 2006

Rummy to NATO: pull your own weight

SECDEF puts it nicer,
“A number of countries in Nato really ought to think more carefully about the nature of the world we are living in, and if they are comfortable with the very modest percentage of GDP that they are committing to defence,” Mr Rumsfeld told the Financial Times ahead of his arrival in Munich for an annual security conference.

The US has long complained about Europe not spending enough on defence, but Mr Rumsfeld said he was concerned that some countries were spending less than one per cent of gross domestic product on defence.
Why is this an issue?
According to the US defense department, in 2000 the US spent just short of 3 percent of its GDP on defense. Only Turkey and Greece, less prosperous countries, spent proportionately more, at 5.71 and 4.92 percent respectively. Other NATO members devoted a much smaller share of their resources to defense. Canada, for example, spent 1.17 percent. An increase of military expenditures closer to 3 percent of GDP by other NATO members might enhance the collective power of Europe and Canada vis-a-vis the US, for the net effect of the current low spending levels is to magnify further the American influence within the Atlantic alliance. Since 9/11 this influence has only increased, as US defense spending is now variously estimated to stand at between 3.2 and 5 percent of GDP.
As Mom and Dad taught me; with rights come responsibilities. There are a lot of NATO members who are catching a relatively free ride. True that one cannot expect Luxemberg's military to have an armed division at the ready, but on a per-capita basis, they should do what they can.

Here is a proposal; you don't have to spend as much as the U.S., Greece and Turkey as a percent of GDP - but if you want to play in our club you must spend ~2.5% with a waiver down to 2%. If you don't want to, fine. Go play with Austria.

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