NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has joined calls for Germany to spend more money on its military.
Stoltenberg insists the move is not to “make the U.S. happy,” but because “Europe is much closer to the crises and threats than the U.S., closer to Russia, closer to Syria and Iraq.”
Diplomatic tensions between the United States and Germany have risen since President Donald Trump has focused his criticisms of NATO primarily on Germany, who does not currently meet an agreed NATO member spending goal. The goal stipulates that all member states of NATO should spend 2% of their national gross domestic product (GDP) on their national military.
Currently, only five of 28 NATO nations meet the 2% spending goal; the U.S., the U.K., Greece, Poland, and Estonia.
Germany, as the largest economy in Europe, has become a particular target of President Trump, who said in a Tweet that Germany “owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” The United States has stationed hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in Germany for decades.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said Trump and the United States are misinterpreting the 2014 NATO military spending agreement, saying that member nations only agreed to work towards that goal. However, Gabriel has said Germany’s military is “not in a responsible shape,” and spending must be increased.
Germany currently spends only 1.2 percent of its GDP on the military. To spend 2 percent of its GDP, Germany would need to increase spending by €70 million (nearly $75 billion) each year over the course of the next few years, which Gabriel has called ‘absurd’.
“It’s particularly absurd if we look at France which spends €40 billion but has also a nuclear program included in it. I would honestly not even know where to put all the aircraft carriers we would buy with €70 billion.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated she intends for Germany to reach the 2 percent goal over the course of the next decade, but that other measures of defense should be considered when factoring in that amount, such as money spent on international aid organizations that prevent or resolve conflict.
Increasing military might in Germany also remains a touchy subject. Modern Germany has sought to emphasize diplomatic ventures rather than military ones. However, Germany has deployed troops abroad to participate in NATO efforts in Afghanistan and most recently in Iraq, where they trained Peshmerga fighters as well as conducted reconnaissance and refueling flights to assist the coalition against the Islamic State.
Featured image courtesy of NATO