From NATO, new proof that Belgium and Germany are pathetic allies – Washington Examiner

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday released his 2018 report on the alliance. It offers new evidence that Belgium and Germany remain exceptionally pathetic NATO allies. This matters because NATO is an alliance on which much of the world’s security, prosperity, and freedom of the world rests.

Sadly, the Belgians’ and Germans’ actions continue to betray their words. At the 2014 NATO summit in Britain, every alliance nation formally agreed to move toward spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and at least 20 percent of their defense budgets on equipment procurement. What have Belgium and Germany done in the intervening years? Not much.

Consider NATO’s new data. First up, have a look at each nation’s defense spending as a percentage of GDP (for context, the U.S. spent at least 3.34 percent of GDP on defense between 2014-2018).

In 2014, Belgium spent 0.98 percent of GDP on defense, and Germany spent 1.18 percent. The following years:

2015: Belgium: 0.92, Germany: 1.18
2016: Belgium: 0.92, Germany: 1.19
2017: Belgium: 0.91, Germany: 1.23
2018: Belgium: 0.93, Germany: 1.23

These numbers prove the lie of both governments in their 2014 agreement. The statistics show that neither nation cared to invest in NATO’s common defense.

Next up, let’s look at equipment expenditure as a percentage of each nation’s total defense spending. The equipment target matters because equipment offers instrumental means of action for allied strategy against an enemy. Let’s bring in the U.S. here for annual context.

In 2014, Belgium spent 3.52 percent of its total defense budget on equipment. Germany spent 12.94 percent, and the U.S. spent 25.97 percent. The following years:

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2015: Belgium: 3.44, Germany: 11.93, USA: 25.41
2016: Belgium: 4.66, Germany: 12.21, USA: 25.05
2017: Belgium: 6.41, Germany: 13.75, USA: 25.73
2018: Belgium: 9.80, Germany: 14.13, USA: 25.27

Look at those divergences. While Belgium gets some credit for increasing equipment spending to nearly 10 percent, it’s still way short of what it should have done. And Germany? Its numbers testify to a broken military, the best elements of which it is reluctant even to deploy. Of course, there’s a follow-up question here. If these nations are not even meeting their 20 percent equipment targets, then where are they spending the rest of their defense budgets?

The answer: on personnel. In 2018, Belgium spent an insane 72.06 percent of its defense budget on personnel, and Germany spent 46.97 percent. That’s what defense welfare spending looks like. Defense spending for jobs, rather than for defense. The equipment targets exist precisely to prevent this.

Belgium has the honor of hosting NATO headquarters. It has benefited from U.S. intelligence that has saved hundreds of its citizens lives. Then, there’s Chancellor Angela “Nord Stream II” Merkel of Germany. Merkel, whom columnist Jennifer Rubin calls the leader of the free world, has shown herself to be anything but. And in her neglect of allies, Merkel has betrayed other European NATO powers such as Britain and France.

Stoltenberg recently told the Washington Examiner that he’ll push Germany to do more on defense, but the evidence suggests that Merkel won’t be listening. The leader of Europe’s largest economy is happy with the current status quo, in which the U.S. accounts for 50.1 percent of total NATO GDP and 70 percent of total NATO defense spending.

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Merkel is the freeloader-in-chief. And sorry, generous German foreign aid spending doesn’t count to Western security for the simple reason that aid trucks won’t stop Russian tanks.

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(Screenshot / NATO)

Trump should stand up for NATO without equivocation while continuing to invest in a military capable of defeating any threat. But NATO’s report also gives Trump another lesson. It proves that the president’s fury at states like Germany and Belgium is both necessary and morally required. Next time Trump speaks to NATO, he should directly rebuke by name those leaders who dare laugh, such as Merkel and Belgium’s Charles Michel. He would do well to say next that NATO is relocating to London or Paris and that Germany is losing its U.S. military bases to Poland.

Let’s see if they laugh then.


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