Despite Promises to Trump, NATO, Germany to Miss Defence Spending Target

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OLIVER JJ LANE

Having already admitted it would fail to meet the two per cent of GDP spent on defence it promised in 2014, Germany is now set to likely miss even its reduced target in news that will doubtless do nothing to ease tensions between Chancellor Merkel and U.S. President Trump, who is pushing for fellow NATO members to pull their own weight.

All North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members pledged to spend two per cent of their national GDP on defence expenditure at the Cardiff summit in 2014, a move to encourage nations to actually meet the treaty obligation which is technically a requirement for membership but has in most cases never been realised.

For the most part, the vast majority of defence spending in NATO has been carried by just a handful of nations — predominantly the United States but also the United Kingdom, an imbalance President Trump has sought to redress since taking the Presidency.

While the largest economy in Europe is theoretically more than capable of paying for its own defence rather than depending on the United States and others to guarantee its security, Germany has proven perhaps the most reluctant of NATO members to pay its way, officially acknowledging it was ignoring the two per cent target it had signed up to, and stating it was pursuing one and a half instead — and on a much longer time frame.

Now the German defence budget is facing a $28.3 billion funding shortfall to 2023, the Associated Press reports, meaning it will miss even its reduced funding goal, having raised from 1.18 per cent in 2014 to just 1.24 per cent last year.

While President Trump grabbed headlines in July 2018 when he made defence spending by less committed NATO members the theme of his visit to the annual gathering of alliance leaders, he has restated his key points more recently.

Responding to criticism that he was not popular in European capitals, President Trump said it was not his job to please the voters of any country except the United States, and that as long as other NATO members paid their bills he did not care what they thought of him.

President Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to Germany has also been piling on the pressure for the nation to do more. Speaking exclusively to Breitbart London, Ambassador Richard Grenell said: “NATO spending is one thing that the President told me directly that he wants me to accomplish. It is a very difficult issue, and is why I’m thinking very creatively about how we do it…

“It is woeful; Germany is the largest economy in Europe. They made a commitment to NATO, and they should be serious about that commitment; it is a multilateral institution that guarantees the allies, guaranteeing freedom.”

The poor state of the German military was highlighted the same week as Grenell’s remarks when a military flyby to commemorate the forced retirement of a senior general who had been critical of the government’s low spending on defence featured four Eurofighter jets. As a local Berlin newspaper noted that day, they were the only four in the German armed forces that were at that time combat ready out of 128, the rest being unable to fly sorties due to a lack of equipment.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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