NATO leaders hope to renew their commitment to increase military spending at next week’s Madrid Summit, given the need to remain competitive against powers like China or the direct threat posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the gates of the Alliance.
“It is time to keep the momentum going. So that we can continue to preserve peace, prevent conflicts and protect our peoples,” said NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenbergon the occasion of the meeting of allied defense ministers last week.
That meeting served to test the will of the NATO countries to expand their military budgets before the summit, almost eight years after the summit in Wales (United Kingdom) in 2014, in which the leaders of the Alliance committed to invest 2% of their GDP in defense in ten years at a time when Russia began a first stage of aggression against Ukraine with the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Since then, European allies and Canada have halted cutbacks prompted by the international financial and economic crisis and tied seven years of increases, new contributions to NATO deployments (which countries fund), and further investment in high-level capabilities.
According to the Alliance’s latest estimates of defense spending in 2021, European allies and Canada have invested 1.69% of their GDP, in slight decline compared to the 1.72% they dedicated in 2020 and still far from the goal of 2% set for 2024.
A) Yes, only eight of the thirty allies already meet that objective, although NATO has highlighted that military spending has increased in real terms by 3.1% since 2014, which has translated into an additional 270,000 million dollars.
From the United States, successive administrations have increased the pressure on Europe and Canada to “share the burden more” and not trust everything to American investment.
the republican donald trump did not beat around the bush when it came to demanding more efforts from its partners, especially from Germany, Europe’s economic locomotive, which according to the latest figures only invests 1.49% of its GDP in defense, but practically the same firmness had shown his predecessor, the Democrat Barack Obama.
And the current tenant of the White House, Joe Biden – who was Obama’s vice president – maintains a commitment to increase military spending that European allies and Canada are willing to follow at the Madrid Summit, according to allied sources, confirming new budget and innovation commitments, perhaps out of necessity with a war at the gates of the Alliance and with China having dramatically increased its investment in defense with a view to completing the modernization of its Armed Forces by 2035.
According to the latest NATO data, in absolute terms USA It is the country that invests the most funds in military spending: in 2021, it allocated more than 811,000 million dollars to this item, although it was the second nation behind Greece if the percentage of its GDP that goes to defense is taken into account, 3.57%.
For fiscal year 2023, the Joe Biden Administration has presented a defense budget of 813,000 million dollars, which represents an increase of 4% compared to 2022, in response to the war in Ukraine and the Chinese threat.
The expert William Hartungfrom the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft think tank, told Efe that in the United States “the Chinese threat has been greatly exaggerated” when it comes to justifying the budget increase.
In his view, the growth in Pentagon spending is actually motivated by “the US strategy of seeking global military dominance, coupled with the power of the military-industrial complex, with lobbyists for increased spending and older, every year.
The RAND think tank analyst Stephen Flanaganwho was a special assistant to the president and worked on the National Security Council during Obama’s term, predicts that the upward trend in the defense budget will continue in the future.
Flanagan told Efe that much of this growth will serve to “modernize capabilities to counter major threats from China and Russia in all domains: sea, land, space and air.”
The RAND expert recalled that, based on the current defense plan, which is valid for five years, the US is expected to increase its annual military spending until 2027; although everything will depend on factors such as the country and the rest of the world avoiding a recession, the development of the war in Ukraine and the evolution of competition with China.
In this context, Hartung stated that, like most US governments, the Biden Administration would like to see a greater contribution from NATO allies, “although it is very pleased with the recent announcements of Germany and other key states that they will substantially increase their defense budgets in response to the invasion of Ukraine.”
In this sense, the professor of International Relations at the West Point Military Academy, Lieutenant Colonel jordan beckerdoes not believe that there will be big announcements during the NATO summit in Madrid of an increase in military spending by the allies at the individual level, “although it is possible.”
In his opinion, “the alliance will collectively seek to retain what the allies see useful from the Wales 2014 Commitment (when they committed to allocate 2% of their GDP to defense), while updating the metrics in ways that are politically acceptable enough for everyone to get a consensus.”