US Presses EU Nations to Hike Military Spending to ‘Confront Russia’

Obama: Everybody's Got to Chip In

Economic struggles and budget shortfalls have had many European member nations of NATO cutting back military spending, something US officials have been railed about for years. Russia has given them an excuse for another pushback on those cuts.

European Union nations spend an average of 1.7% of their GDPs annually on military, and in the Obama Administration’s mind, that’s not nearly enough money being thrown into the sinkhole of militarism.

“Everybody’s got to chip in,” insisted President Obama, going on to insist that “freedom isn’t free” and the loss of Crimea necessitates a much larger military buildup across Europe to “confront Russia.”

As a practical matter, NATO as a whole spent over 10 times what Russia does on its military, $990 billion versus $90 billion. The US accounts for over two-thirds of that.

The reality is that many NATO member nations, particularly those in the Mediterranean, simply can’t afford the dramatic increases President Obama wants, and have credit ratings that don’t allow them to deficit finance runaway military spending.

And while the US couches this as a “counter” to Russia, there is similarly no reason to think a 10 to 1 or 11 to 1 ratio of NATO to Russia spending isn’t sufficient for “defensive” purposes. The unspoken assumption here is that the US, by far the world’s largest exporter of weapons systems, would see considerable benefit from increased spending by nations like Spain and the Netherlands.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.