Any pledge regarding defense spending in NATO?

NATO SecGen Rasmussen just said that he hopes for Wales summit pledge to raise defense spending.  Would you say that it is a realistic expectation or maybe not, and why? Read few comments.

Julianne Smith, Senior Fellow, Director of the Strategy and Statecraft Program, Center for a New American Security

While I would love to see NATO members increase defense spending, I fear that we won’t see any major changes in the months ahead.  The truth is that NATO members continue to have a number of domestic priorities that require resources, European publics are war weary and exhausted from over a decade of war and not many countries feel that their vital national security interests are under attack (minus those in Central and Eastern Europe).  Some countries like Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have indicated a commitment to spend more but other than that, we have not see any indication that some of the larger countries in Europe will be making dramatic changes.

Konrad MuzykaEurope and CIS Armed Forces Analyst, IHS Jane’s

Such commitments are unlikely to be made across all NATO countries as long as the alliance asks, instead of demanding its members to increase defence spending. However, the biggest obstacle relates to the fact that different countries have different threat assessments. Even in Central Europe there are divisions as to what actions should be implemented in response to Russian annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian operations in Eastern Ukraine.  This is starkly evident in the case of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, all of which have no appetite to bump up defence spending to NATO recommended 2% of GDP.

There are three reasons why countries in Western Europe are also unwilling to increase the defence expenditure.

1.  Threat assessment there is also different with Russian not seen as a threat. This also pertains to…

2.  Business links. Germany does not wish to pursue more aggressive policies or introduce harsher sanctions due to the adverse impact these may have on the economic growth. Similarly France will not cancel the Mistral deal as the financial costs are too big.

3.  As a result, it would be very hard to explain to citizens of these countries why defence spending should be increased. This would be a very unpopular decision in times when the economic growth is still fragile.ň

Sean KayProfessor, Department of Politics and Government, Ohio Wesleyan University

No, it is not a realistic expectation because the primary overally threat to stability in Europe remains the Eurozone and many of the allies will continue to assume the US will pick up the slack.  The real issue, however, is not more spending.  The real issue is that the allies need to be working closely with the United States in order get them to better pool the existing European  capabilities so that they can operate better and effectively in some scenarios not always involving the United States, or with the allies in the lead.  One of the founding principles of America’s role in NATO was that Europe should be able to stand on its own two feet, not be a permanent appendage of American power.  The long-term health and viability of the NATO alliance is dependent upon finally achieving a lasting solution to burdensharing – but just more spending will not actually help that much, because what is really needed is pooled European capabilities, aided and backstopped by the United States, so that the allies can assume lead responsibility for their security interests both in and nearby to Europe.



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