Whenever NATO gets together, as they did at last week’s summit, you can count on a push for military spending increases. NATO’s official targets is 2% of every member nation’s GDP in military spending, and almost no nation is spending that much.
And there’s no need, according to German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who instead of letting the NATO push go in one ear and out the other insisted publicly that there was no reason for her nation to so dramatically increase its military budget.
Germany already has one of the top 10 militaries on the planet, but with the fifth largest economy it spends only 1.4% of its GDP on that military. Von der Leyen insists that spending should be in line with what the military is doing, as opposed to some arbitrary NATO-imposed percent.
Since World War 2, Germany has nominally had a pacifist constitution, and while that didn’t stop them from sending troops to Kosovo or Afghanistan, the country remains skiddish about jumping too deeply into NATO military adventures.
They aren’t alone. Britain and France usually clear the NATO 2% goal by a bit, as does Turkey. The United States spends 4.4% of GDP on its gargantuan military, but that’s basically it. In 2013 Greece slipped above the 2% mark, but only because their GDP was plummeting in the midst of an economic crisis.
Germany’s 1.4% is actually in line with most NATO members’ actual percentages of spending, and most of the nations simply refuse to deficit fund the sort of military that will keep NATO’s leadership, and US arms exporters, happy.