NATO has a strong claim to being the most important political-military alliance in human history. Not only was the alliance a bulwark against Soviet encroachment for four decades, but it also created the security conditions that have enabled the European Continent, once war-torn, to become “whole and free.” And let´s not forget that over last 15 years, the United States has gone into war together with NATO, or with NATO members on its side, on four different occasions. European states had broader strategic ambitions, both regionally and globally, concerning intervening in conflicts. And Europe sought to demonstrate its commitment to democracy and human rights and to addressing failing states.
Yet the Atlantic alliance today seems to be running on fumes. Even after the invasion of Ukraine not much has changed. When it comes to the military measures taken so far by the alliance in response to Russia´s intervention have been modest at best. Behind this muted reaction lies the reduction in military spending, a common theme across Europe.
This trend has already had an impact on Americans view transAtlantic security ties. Despite the gentleman´s agreement reached by NATO members in 2002 to maintain a floor for national defense budgets of at least 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), of the major powers only four states fulfill the nonbinding requirement: the USA, Estonia, Greece,and Great Britain.
Most European members states in NATO plan, however, contribute less to NATO this year than that they have unit now. For them, as Britain´s minister of defence put it, the financisl crisis remains the greatest threat to the security of Europe. Until now, efficiency-the question of the actual utility of defence expenditures has not played a role in connection with the 2 percent target. But when it comes to appropriate defence capabilities for NATO, then it becomes essential to consider specific contributions.
The larger, countries further away from Moscow France, Italy, and Turkey failed to reach the NATO agreed two percent of GDP on defense. Moreover, Germany´s expenditures are distinctly lower than those of France and Great Britain, whom it considers as its peers in defence policy. France´s budget law orders no increase before 2019. As for Germany, it spends only 1.3 percent of its GDP, And national studies report that, unless budget trends are altered, Britain, too, may fall below that 2 percent threshold in 2017.
The United States is focusing on Germany in particular, in the hope that other NATO member states will follow suit if even the reluctant Germany is seen spending more on defence. Yet Germany has not offered any specific or constructive suggestions in response to Washington´s demands. But Berlin can neither escape American pressure, nor ignore the financial consequences of the new security situation for national defence budgets within the alliance.
Sweden will increase defence spending in coming years with more than 10 percent. Sweden, more reliable contributor, now maintains a truly special relationship with NATO, with a privileged position as “NO 1” in the partnership pool.
It may be unreasonable to expect allies to hit this 2% mark in the near term, but that level of expenditure is surely achievable within the next five years. Germany especially need to increase defence spending to 2% of its GDP.Germany owes its economic prosperity to international security and trade and should thus make a contribution to world peace and global security.
President Obama´s visit to Estonia matters a lot to the Balts. Europe is facing a threat to peace, stability and security the likes of which we have not seen since fall of Iron Curtain. As a defensive Alliance, NATO has always stressed that none of its weapons will ever be used except in self-defence. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it is not under the nuclear umbrella, and there are no obligations to protect it. But, as NATO´s Partnership for Peace, the Allies stand together in the spirit of strong solidarity and promising to support all constructive efforts for a peaceful solution of Ukraine´s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
To meet the treaty´s security guarantee for any member nation 2 percent of GDP is hardly an outrageous burden to ask countries to accept in order to shore up the Continent´s security and help reserve international stability form which they certainly all benefit from building a better world in which nations came together for the common good.
In spite of all the cuts, the 28 EU member states together still spend €160 billion on defence per year. Europe should indeed not let that total amount drop any further. In the end, the things that bind nations together more tightly then trade is, of course, common values: strong commitment to democracy, human freedom and economic liberalism. The values that we share in common with the United States are deeper than that we have with China and Russia.
True democracy, real prosperity, lasting security these are neither simply given. The NATO summit is very important because of changed security situation of NATO´s borders. There is major challenge, imposing great demands not only on the new EU Member States, but on all NATO alliance.
The Ukraine crisis has the potential to stabilise European defence spending. But, there must be real consequences if there is to be any chance of turning things around. As the NATOsummit meeting delegates gather today and survey the security treats that Europe faces, they should reflect on how vital an institution NATO has been.
NATO is before all else an instrument for the protection of freedom and of the values of Western civilization. An instrument for the defence of the Euro-American political and cultural realm, principal guarantor of security, peace and democratic development in Europe and its values against any possible treat, no matter where it might come from.