Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Bit of Clarification on NATO

NATO States (the one in South America is a part of France)
Our President has got himself a bit wrapped around the axle regarding NATO. He is not a dumb person, just quite uninterested in what he isn't interested in, so perhaps others have the same issue. Let's clear some things up.

 
Regarding the NATO spending target of 2% of GDP.
 - This is a target that NATO members have decided on. It is how much they have, as a group, decided military spending should be. This target was pushed by the United States who believe that overall military spending is too low.
 - The reason that the USA believes this is because the alliance did not do a great job of projecting force in Afghanistan or the Balkans in the 1990s. They would like a better partner in countries.
- USA spends a lot more than 2% of its GDP on the military, and feels its treaty partners should also.
- Recent aggressive moves from Russia (invasions of Georgia and Ukraine and annexation of Crimea) underscore the need for a military.

Regarding NATO allies "Owing" money.
- The 2% spending is on military by that country. It is NOT money owed directly to NATO or the United States. There is no batch of money that goes to NATO (at least not at a realistic level, although there is some communication and coordination funding).
- This is like USA foreign aid spending: we have signed up to targets of spending 1% of our GDP to foreign aid. We don't do that at the government level. We don't "owe" the missing aid money balance to anyone. It is just something we don't do.

Regarding the comment that this low spending robs American tax payers.
- No. The USA spends what it spends on military regardless of what our NATO allies pay. We spend what we think is correct to secure our place in the world.
- For example: Croatia has a GDP of ~ US$100 Billion. They spend US$1.55 Billion on defense. If Croatia spent another $450 Million on defense would the US cut $450 Million from our defense budget? No. And we know this because before the 2008 financial crisis, ALL our allies spent significantly more on defense, and we did not cut our budgets.

Regarding the President's refusal to acknowledge Article 5 and Germany's response.
- Article 5 is the purpose of NATO. It says that an attack on one country is an attack on all countries and each will come to each other's defense. It has only been used once, after 9/11 when NATO went into Afghanistan.
- Without this confirmation, the treaty is worth much less. AND THE US CAME UP WITH THIS TREATY. There is a twofold reason for the being of NATO (from the USA standpoint). It is important to understand WHY there is a NATO at all.
- FIRST, the USA did not want Europe to fall back into a patchwork of alliances. That lead to two world wars (or one big long one depending on your viewpoint) that cost a ton of lives of US soldiers. Rather than have Germany and Italy and others rearm, this time with nuclear weapons, we agreed to a mutual defense treaty and worked actively to reduce their military spending.
- SECOND, rather soon after WWII, the USA and the USSR became adversaries. The official US position was to surround and choke off USSR influence, and NATO was a key part of that in Europe.

So - Should We Demand the NATO allies spend more funds?
- There may be some level of defense spending required to be part of NATO - but military targets set by defense ministers shouldn't be that determining number. If we want to have a required amount, then let's negotiate it.
HOWEVER - there are a couple of problems:
- First, some countries we want in don't want to pay that much. Iceland is an example. Iceland has never really be threatened by anyone. They pay a small percentage of their GDP, but the US had decades of use a military installation that was key to NATO. So we want some countries in that this may force out. Montenegro is also an example that we just let in. We don't care about Montnegro's minuscule military - we don't want Russia to access their Mediterrian ports - so we used NATO to essentially "buy" the ports.
- Second, be prepared that without NATO, (or kicking countries out) military growth would lead to more nuclear weapons. One product of NATO is that Germany, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Italy - nearly all countries in Europe don't have nuclear weapons. Lessons from Ukraine, Iraq, Iran and North Korea show that nuclear weapons buy a huge deterrence. If the US doesn't provide deterrence, then they will on their own.  This is a map of countries with nuclear power plants and therefore a simple and ready supply of raw materials for weapons (light green are planning only, but blue and dark green have them ready).
You want all those countries to have nucs?

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