European defense spending is historically weak, both by its own terms and in comparison to America’s. McClatchy reports:
The European members of NATO have about 230 million more people than the United States and a combined gross domestic product that’s slightly larger than that of the United States. Yet European nations today spend only 37 percent of what the United States does on defense: $270 billion vs. $735 billion.In 1990, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, European nations were spending about 60 percent of what the United States spent: $186 billion to $306 billion.
Ukraine has become the cautionary tale of a European nation that neglected defense. In the past five years, the government spent just one-tenth of what its military leaders deemed necessary to maintain its force, officially reasoning, “Ukraine has no enemies who might invade.”