EU chief says allies will not cave to US defense spending demands

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said NATO allies should not cave in to U.S. demands that European nations spend more on their defense because "development" and "humanitarian aid" can also be included in defense spending.

This is the same argument Europe has been making since Ronald Reagan was jawboning NATO to up their contributions to the alliance back in the 1980s.

Juncker was responding to a recent statement by U.S. defense secretary James Mattis, who, in a visit to Europe, warned that the U.S. could scale back its commitment to NATO if other countries did not pay their fair share.  Juncker's whining is classic.

Reuters:

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies on Wednesday that they must honor military spending pledges to make sure the United States does not moderate its support.

"It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this," Juncker said in a speech on the sidelines of the international Munich Security Conference.

He said he knew that Germany would no longer have a budget surplus if it increased defense spending to 2 percent of GDP from 1.22 percent.

"I don't like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military," he said, arguing it would be sensible to look at a "modern stability policy" made up of several components.

"If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending," he said.

"Europeans must bundle their defense spending better and spend the money more efficiently," he added.

So-called "soft power" doesn't buy any weapons.  Nor does "humanitarian aid" add to the defense of Europe in any way, shape, or form.  Ask the Ukrainians how that "soft power" is working out for them.  Or the Georgians.  Or the Baltic states who feel threatened by a revanchist Russia.

It's loony to believe that development and humanitarian assistance contribute to collective security as much as weapons, trained soldiers, and a coherent strategy.  It's not reality – it's an excuse. 

How sorry do you feel about Germany losing its budget surplus if the Germans spend what they agreed to spend on defense?  These numbers were not imposed by the U.S.  Germany agreed to spend 2% of its GDP on defense, and the Germans are way, way short of that.  Whose fault is that?  Certainly not the U.S.'s.

In may not be the best time for NATO to be having these internal squabbles, but given the lack of a clearly defined mission for the world's oldest military alliance, perhaps it's best to get the issue of collective defense spending settled now rather than during a crisis.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said NATO allies should not cave in to U.S. demands that European nations spend more on their defense because "development" and "humanitarian aid" can also be included in defense spending.

This is the same argument Europe has been making since Ronald Reagan was jawboning NATO to up their contributions to the alliance back in the 1980s.

Juncker was responding to a recent statement by U.S. defense secretary James Mattis, who, in a visit to Europe, warned that the U.S. could scale back its commitment to NATO if other countries did not pay their fair share.  Juncker's whining is classic.

Reuters:

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies on Wednesday that they must honor military spending pledges to make sure the United States does not moderate its support.

"It has been the American message for many, many years. I am very much against letting ourselves be pushed into this," Juncker said in a speech on the sidelines of the international Munich Security Conference.

He said he knew that Germany would no longer have a budget surplus if it increased defense spending to 2 percent of GDP from 1.22 percent.

"I don't like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military," he said, arguing it would be sensible to look at a "modern stability policy" made up of several components.

"If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending," he said.

"Europeans must bundle their defense spending better and spend the money more efficiently," he added.

So-called "soft power" doesn't buy any weapons.  Nor does "humanitarian aid" add to the defense of Europe in any way, shape, or form.  Ask the Ukrainians how that "soft power" is working out for them.  Or the Georgians.  Or the Baltic states who feel threatened by a revanchist Russia.

It's loony to believe that development and humanitarian assistance contribute to collective security as much as weapons, trained soldiers, and a coherent strategy.  It's not reality – it's an excuse. 

How sorry do you feel about Germany losing its budget surplus if the Germans spend what they agreed to spend on defense?  These numbers were not imposed by the U.S.  Germany agreed to spend 2% of its GDP on defense, and the Germans are way, way short of that.  Whose fault is that?  Certainly not the U.S.'s.

In may not be the best time for NATO to be having these internal squabbles, but given the lack of a clearly defined mission for the world's oldest military alliance, perhaps it's best to get the issue of collective defense spending settled now rather than during a crisis.

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