Today, during an impromptu press conference following the results of the NATO summit, President Trump announced the “tremendous progress” made by the Allies.
He also added that NATO member countries agreed to increase spending amid the threat of US withdrawal from NATO.
“I think this is entirely possible,” Trump answered the question of whether he was going to withdraw the US from NATO without receiving Congressional approval.
True, there is one problem: first, French President Macron, and then Angela Merkel, almost directly denied Trump’s claim to conclude an agreement on spending.
Emmanuel Macron, when asked to confirm or refute Trump’s statement, replied that the plans remained unchanged: “All parties agreed to an increase in spending on the terms that were negotiated in 2014. All agreed to fulfill their earlier obligations. We have affirmed a budget strategy that meets our needs. ”
Merkel expressed herself rather evasively: “We must always determine what else can be done.”
“We need to discuss the extent to which we can pay more attention to defense. We reviewed the current situation. But, given the discussion among the European allies, not only the American side, we need to constantly wonder what else we can do, ”Merkel said.
As after the G7 meeting, Trump left behind nothing but confusion in words.
It is worth noting that only five of the 28 NATO member countries, namely the USA, Greece, Poland, Estonia and the UK, fulfill the goals of spending 2% of GDP on defense. Therefore, Trump during his presidency will try to force other block member countries to increase their military spending. The alliance raised total spending for the first time in 20 years in 2015, but most of this spending growth came from the United States.
Government spending on country security,% of GDP
The United States spends the largest share of its GDP on the defense industry – 3.61%. The second NATO member country that spends the largest share of GDP on the defense industry is Greece (2.38%), according to NATO. But Germany last year spent 1.19% of GDP, France – 1.78% of GDP.
Canada, Slovenia, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg – less than 1% of GDP.
NATO recognizes that it is virtually completely dependent on the United States, which supplies the necessary funds, including funds for reconnaissance, in-flight refueling, ballistic missiles and electronic warfare using on-board equipment.
NATO insists that the limit of 2% of GDP be respected more seriously. Back in 2014, all the member countries of the bloc that spent less than the declared minimum had to increase military spending in order to achieve the goal in ten years.
Germany maintains a significant trade surplus with the United States, due to the growth of its exports.
But German officials have repeatedly pointed out to the Trump administration that when it comes to the auto industry, which is the president’s focus, German companies BMW and Mercedes produce most of their cars in the US market, employing thousands of workers and exporting cars to the rest of America.
Contrary to complaints from the Trump administration, German authorities opposed the European Central Bank monetary policy, which weakened the euro and made German exports cheaper.
Trump’s attacks led to the fact that already in November 2017 the European Union officially opened a new era of defense cooperation, involving the implementation of a joint investment program in military equipment, research and development, known as “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO).
The ministers of foreign affairs and defense of 23 EU countries signed a defense pact in Brussels aimed at enhancing cooperation within the bloc. The document will gain legal force after it is approved by the leaders of the bloc at the EU summit in mid-December. From now on, the EU will play a more coherent role in resolving international crises, while reducing dependence on the United States.
PESCO aims to reduce the number of different weapons systems in Europe and to promote regional military integration. It is also intended for the joint training of military officers. The joint development of the EU’s military potential will allow the bloc to conduct operations separately or jointly with NATO.
Federica Mogherini called the deal “a historic moment in the defense system of Europe.” According to her, PESCO serves as an addition to NATO, which consists of 22 of the 28 EU countries. She believes that the EU has the tools to combat hybrid warfare – using conventional weapons along with propaganda and cyber attacks – something that the military alliance does not have at its disposal. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke of this agreement as “a great step towards self-reliance and the strengthening of the security and defense policies of the European Union”, which is an important milestone in the development of Europe.
The independent military capabilities of the EU will weaken NATO and put an end to Europe’s dependence on the United States. For Sweden and Finland, non-NATO members of the EU, an alliance in the EU may be preferable than with NATO. In the end, European states became embroiled in military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of solidarity with the United States, and not because the interests of European countries were affected. Only these two examples are enough to give preference to European, rather than transatlantic security interests. Quite often, these interests do not coincide.