Monday, July 9, 2018

How Much Do the NATO Members Spend on National Defense?

Josh Marshall provides a nice discussion of the difference between how NATO is funded versus how much each of its members spends on national defense, which begins with:
As we move toward the NATO Summit and the Putin-Trump summit, I thought it made sense to review some of the details behind the President’s demands that NATO member countries pay up and stop doing what he regards as freeloading on the US taxpayer dime. Most people have a general sense that Trump doesn’t seem to grasp how an alliance works, that it’s not meant to function as a protection racket. But the actual details are both sillier and more significant than it may seem on the surface.
While I applaud his discussion, something is amiss here:
The vastly greater amount is the combined military budgets of all the member countries combined, which was $921 billion in 2017. The great majority of that is made up of the US military budget. In 2017 the US military budget was $610 billion. The coming fiscal year puts it at $700 billion. (That big run-up is significant and we’ll return to it.) Some of that difference is driven by the fact that the US economy is far larger than any individual NATO member state. But the US also spends much more on a per capita basis. Staying with the 2017 numbers, the US spends 3.61% of GDP on defense. The next major NATO member is the UK down at 2.36% while most other major NATO powers are significantly under 2%. (Examples: France, 1.79%; Germany, 1.2% Canada, 1.02%)
Actually, U.S. national defense spending was over $744 billion in 2017, which came to 3.8% according to this source. Call me a pacifist but maybe we should all be spending less on the ability to wage war.


2slugbaits said...

As Josh Marshall points out, most of US defense spending is not directly tied to defending Europe from Russian aggression. So we're certainly not spending 2% of our GDP on NATO...and we shouldn't. But I'd like to know where that 2% goal came from. Was it based on some red-on-blue wargaming simulation that told us we need "X" number of brigades to achieve 90% confidence of defeating a Russian attack? Or was it just a number pulled out of somebody's butt? Today's Russian army is not the old Soviet/Warsaw Pact army. We might well need a NATO strong enough to protect the Baltic countries, but we don't need to keep hauling out the old Fulda Gap scenario.

And isn't the definition of national defense spending a bit arbitrary? I suspect that logisticians might be more interested in a high capacity transportation network than they would the number of tanks and troops garrisoned 500 miles from the front. And shouldn't war planners be at least as concerned with the vulnerability of Western Europe to Russia cutting off energy supplies? The point is that the 2% target represents a kind of braindead approach to military planning.

jamzo said...

how much of the US defense dollars are spent on US defense industry businesses ?

how can you adequately portray economic interests versus defense interests

how much of our defense spending is off set by our arms sales?

Anonymous said...

July 10, 2018

Trump Urges NATO to Double Military-Spending Target to 4% of GDP
U.S. leader pressures allies while bashing Germany for its military spending and support for a major gas deal with Russia

Anonymous said...

Military spending between January and March 2018 was running at about 3.9% of GDP.

Antoni Jaume said...

2slugbaits, it would not surprise me if it was by a similar way as the 2 % inflation rate target of central banks.

Anonymous said...

"Trump Urges NATO to Double Military-Spending Target to 4% of GDP"

and make sure you shop at your friendly neighborhood "military industrial complex corporation"

whose profits are the real reason we spend 750 billion on defense