NATO’s leaders went into this year’s conference in Wales hoping to raise their defense spending to 2% of GDP. This figure has been an official alliance target since 2002, but one mostly honored in the breach: only four members (the US, UK, Greece, and Estonia) of the 28-country alliance hit it this year, and one of them, the UK, is set to drop below it by 2015 due to budget cuts.This year, NATO diplomats sought to enact a binding agreement between the member nations to raise their military budgets. What came of that resolve? A commitment to freeze further defense cuts. The Financial Times reports:
According to two people familiar with the negotiations over the Nato targets, the commitment currently due before the Atlantic Council on Friday will be an aspirational “aim” to meet the 2 per cent threshold from states over the course of a decade. There will be no absolute requirement for states to hit the target.In slightly more robust language, the text also says that “allies agree to halt further defence cuts”.A Nato official stressed that further revisions could take place within the council meeting itself, though this would be unusual. Nato policies are not voted on by the council but are typically passed by consensus after diplomats have thrashed out disagreements beforehand.
Germany’s defense spending is at 1.3%; Italy’s, 1.2%; and Canada’s, a mere 1%. The proposed shift wasn’t even to be immediate, despite the urgent nature of some threats, but rather carried out over 10 years. But the European and Canadian leaders did not even agree to go home and campaign for a shift, much less deliver one.With Russian tanks rolling in Europe for the first time since 1968 and with ISIS threatening to export its Islamist terror worldwide, the need for defense spending is clearer than it has been in a generation. It not now, when?