Why didn't President Obama tell the Europeans to get serious about NATO?
President Obama said all of the right things about NATO in his speech on Thursday - that we will act under Article 5 to protect members of the alliance. However, he forgot to tell the Europeans that they are not spending enough money or carrying their weight in the alliance.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, there are too many NATO members not living up to their commitment:
"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%)."
In other words, NATO is not much an alliance.
I don't expect President Obama to tell the Europeans that the welfare state is draining their economies and creating chronic unemployment. I do expect our commander in chief to remind the Europeans that they are not paying their full membership dues.
Here is the bottom line: It's tough to tell a mother in Kansas that her son should defend countries that won't even live up to their agreements.
P. S. You can hear our special Europe show with Michael Prade and Rosine Ghawji Plus follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.