May 24, 2017

2 Percent Is No Magic Number

If Trump’s favorite NATO metric told the whole story, Greece would be America's best ally in Europe.

By Richard Fontaine

When the leaders of NATO’s 28 member countries gather in Brussels on May 25, all eyes will be on U.S. President Donald Trump. Russia, Afghanistan, and questions about America’s commitment to Europe will be on the allies’ agenda, but the elephant in the room will be burden-sharing — and in particular the president’s demand that there be more of it.

While Trump has backed off many of his previous criticisms of NATO — even declaring the alliance “no longer obsolete” after a meeting with its secretary-general last month — his administration’s emphasis on the need for allies to spend more on defense has endured. Trump has pointed out that just five members currently meet the defense spending target that NATO set in 2014. In February, Secretary of Defense James Mattis offered “clarity on the political reality in the United States” to his fellow defense ministers, saying that if the allies do not want to see America reduce its commitment to them, “each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.” In March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told his counterparts that they should prepare action plans to meet their defense spending commitments. And after meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, Trump tweeted with characteristic bluntness that “Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO.”

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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