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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NATO's Military Decline -- As Russia re-arms, the West increasingly neglects its defenses.-- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Putin and his American apologists like to blame NATO's post-Cold War expansion for his territorial conquests, which ignores that the alliance refused in 2008 to let Georgia and Ukraine even begin the process of joining. Those are the two countries the Russian has since carved up, and the question now is whether Russia's expansionism will slap Western leaders out of their self-defense slumbers.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen sounded the alarm last week in a visit to Washington. "I see Crimea as an element in a greater pattern" of Russian strategy, he told an audience at the Brookings Institution. Moscow's annexation of Crimea, he said, is "a wake-up call" that "must be followed by increased European investment in defense." He might have included the U.S. 

The combined GDP of NATO's 28 member states tops $30 trillion. Yet with few exceptions, most notably Poland, NATO defense expenditures have declined since the end of the Cold War. The nearby table shows the relative defense spending in 2013 for some key NATO countries as a share of GDP. Only four members—the U.S., U.K., Greece and Estonia—spent at least 2% of GDP on defense.

At 1.9%, France last year fell short of the 2% that is supposed to be the technical requirement for membership. Mr. Rasmussen's Denmark spent 1.4% of its GDP on defense, Angela Merkel's Germany 1.3%, Italy 1.2%, and Spain 0.9%. This is what a country spends if it thinks its main security threat is Belgium.

And the trend is down, as a majority of NATO members reduced defense spending in 2013. Among the more drastic defense cutters last year were Canada (7.6%), Slovenia (8.7%), Italy (10.3%), Hungary (11.9%) and Spain (11.9%). 

The U.S. reduced its overall spending by an estimated 2%. That might not sound like much, but American spending comprised 72% of all NATO defense expenditures in 2013. Under President Obama's latest budget proposal, U.S. defense spending will fall from 4.6% of GDP in 2011 to 3.5% in fiscal 2015 and 2.9% by 2017 when he is supposed to leave his successor a country stronger than he inherited. On present trend it will be weaker.
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