Mike Pompeo, the newly confirmed Secretary of State for the United States, found himself singing a familiar tune to NATO allies in Brussels this past week: calling on America’s allies to meet their financial obligations to the alliance and cut their financial reliance on America’s defense apparatus.
Each NATO member nation is required to devote 2% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending. This measure was seen as a fair way to distribute the financial burden of the alliance’s mutual defense, ensuring each state pays their way while acknowledging that financial powerhouses like the United States would bare a greater share of the burden.
However, despite growing concerns about Russian aggression and a fresh influx of military units deployed along Europe’s Russian border tasked with rapidly responding to a Russian incursion, a number of European nations remain unwilling to meet the financial requirements of the NATO charter. Chief among them: Germany, who now devotes only 1.24 percent of its GDP to defense and only has plans to increase that to 1.25 percent by 2021.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel seemed to acknowledge this shortfall during a visit to Washington D.C. earlier this month, though thus far there’s no sign of change in the nation’s defensive strategy.
“I accept that, step by step, Germany will have to increase its contributions over the next few years,” she said alongside President Trump earlier this month. “I am proud of our contribution to NATO but realize that we have to assume more responsibility. We in Europe can no longer rely on the U.S. to come to our aid, so we all have to increase our contributions to NATO.”
As Pompeo headed into the closed-door meeting, the former head of the CIA spoke in keeping with his diplomatic role, emphasizing the importance of the NATO alliance to the United States and the administration he represents.