Easy Solution to the Trump-EU NATO Military Spending Problem

Trump is upset that the EU does not spend enough on the military. I propose a simple solution: Stop the madness.

Ahead of the NATO summit, Trump lashed out at the EU.

Trump Says "NATO is Obsolete"

The New York Times reports Trump Derides NATO as ‘Obsolete.’ Baltic Nations See It Much Differently.

As President Trump joins his second NATO summit meeting — having called the alliance “obsolete,” derided its members as deadbeats and suggested that American military protection is negotiable — there is deep unease on the alliance’s eastern flank. And that sense has only been heightened by Mr. Trump’s scheduled one-on-one meeting next week with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Trump a Threat to EU Security?

Here's a hoot. Eurointelligence founder Wolfgang Münchau says Trump is a Threat to EU Security and Prosperity.

As I have commented before, I highly respect Münchau's view on what is happening at the moment. And as I have also commented, I nearly always disagree on the Eurointelligence solution.

His solution this time is as silly as any that he has proposed to date.

"Years of spending cuts degraded the armed forces’ hardware to the point that only a small number of fighter aircraft are combat-ready," says Münchau.

Münchau notes that Germany spent 1.22% on defense last year, Italy 1.13% and Spain 0.92%.

Defense Against What?

Why does the EU need tanks, fighter aircraft, submarines?

Is the EU under any realistic theat? Where? By what country?

Before you answer incorrectly, please consider another idea.

NATO is Obsolete

Like Trump, the National Interest says (and I agree) NATO is Obsolete.

After the alliance was established in 1949, its first secretary general, Lord Hastings Ismay, summed up its purpose concisely: “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” The unofficial mission matched the time well: Western Europe’s postwar future was clouded by the prospect of a Soviet invasion, American insularity, or German militarism—all possible given the preceding decades of history.

Nearly seventy years later, none of these concerns still exist. Despite endless searches for a new mission to justify its massive burden on U.S. taxpayers, NATO has failed to be of much use since then.

One of the worst free-riders is Canada, which spends just 1 percent of its GDP on security, amounting to $20 billion. Furthermore, Germany spends a similarly pathetic 1.2 percent.

Last year, the alliance welcomed Montenegro. It is now poised to admit the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which would mean the United States is pledged to defend a nation that devotes just $120 million per year to its own defense, not quite as much as the Cincinnati Police Department.

But the reality is there is no truly capable Russian foe seriously threatening the West. Russia has one million uniformed personnel in its military, the world’s second-largest behind America, but the European Union could easily afford to match that with its combined $17 trillion economy—ten times larger than Russia’s. However, it needn’t bother as Moscow spends just $61 billion on its overwrought military, which doubles as an employment program.

To get out of this abusive relationship, Trump should begin the process of limiting America's role in NATO. A good model is that of Sweden, which cooperates with NATO on some matters and not on others.

As part of this plan, Trump could mothball U.S. bases in Europe and shift most resources spent there and in the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific region, where China and Iran pose real threats to America—and against which NATO is irrelevant.

Europe is prosperous and treats America like a patsy. Let it stand on its own.

Close But No Cigar

The National Interest is certainly correct that the US should let The EU take care of itself.

And it is equally correct that Russia poses no threat.

The correct decision then, for Spain, France, Italy, etc, is to spend little on defense outside of border security.

Münchau wants the EU to waste money. For what purpose? The EU is in bad enough shape already.

Canada? New Zealand? Australia? Why should Canada, New Zealand, or Australia spend anything (once again not counting border security)?Arguably, Canada needs to spend nothing.

What About the US?

It's on the US that the National Interest really misses the boat.

The US spends close to 4% of GDP on defense, and that is likley a huge understatement. Why? The US plays games with categories. Much US military spending is hidden in other buckets.

Correct Solution

Rather than forcing other countries to waste as much as the US, I propose we cut US military spending to 1% of GDP.

The US Military Budget in 2018 is just under $700 billion, exceeding the budget cap of $549 billion as established Budget and Control Act (BCA) of 2011.

Real GDP as of the first-quarter of 2018 was $17.372 trillion.

One percent of that would be roughly $174 billion. Let's round up to $200 billion. Since that would pose a huge economic shock, one might suggest getting there over time.

I could go along with that. Would $200 billion be enough for "defense"?

Of course. But it would not be enough for stationing troops in hundreds of countries and bombing countries at will for no reason.

The war in Afghanistan would end. So would US drone policy.

The US would make far fewer enemies if it minded its own business like China or spent as much as Canada did on defense.

Speaking of which, no one hates the US for its freedoms. People hate the US for its war-mongering hypocrisy.

The economic benefits of my simple solution would be tremendous.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (26)
No. 1-26
ZZR600
ZZR600

This whole anti-Russia campaign is absurd. What idiot thinks that a war with Russia would be limited to a conventional war? It will quickly escalate to nuclear making all those trillions spent on conventional weaponry redundant. Strop treating Russia like the USSR and stop finding bad guys where none exist. Imagine if just 1% of defense budgets globally were spent on health-care, green energy etc

Corto
Corto

Dead on, Mish.

Rainman00
Rainman00

Fully agree, though I have a hard time believing that Iran is somehow a threat to the US.

aqualech
aqualech

"Globalists" (uber-weatlthy entities who operate across borders out of DC, Brussels and "The City") would like to see the vast resources of Russia made available for development by foreign companies. NATO is a harassment to the sovereign gov of Russia. Hey, can't blame them for trying to get control of these resources nor for keeping up the facade that they are operating behind, namely the phantom Russian Threat and the need for a massive military presence on their borders. In the perfect world for those behind supporting NATO (see the Atlantic Council, CFR and similar) there would be some pretext eventually for initiating regime change in Moscow to one more open to "foreign investment" (ie, pillage).

aqualech
aqualech

These globalist apparatchiks are doing anything that they can to harass the Russian sovereign government and to try to collapse Russia financially. Very Regeanesque, and a replay of 1990 when the destruction of the USSR was left only half-finished.

"The Russian economy has leveled out after a currency crisis in late 2014, but it remains a brittle, stagnant, energy export-driven economy. Cutting it off from being able to raise cheap funds from Western markets likely would cause downward pressure on the ruble and the Russian economy, and shut off a key release valve for Moscow to use to relieve pressure from economic shocks."

RobinBanks
RobinBanks

I agree with most of that but America's defence of Israel doesn't come cheap. I mean without American political and military interference we might get a viable two state solution and a more peaceful Middle East. If only!

JonSellers
JonSellers

Great post Mish. I propose we disband the US military altogether and go back to state militias. I'd also be in favor of disbanding most of the intelligence agencies, the DEA, ATF, and cutting most police departments in half. And its a good time to do it since we have more open jobs than unemployed.

Jojo
Jojo

"Rather than forcing other countries to waste as much as the US, I propose we cut US military spending to 1% of GDP." Hear! Hear!

Clintonstain
Clintonstain

“The economic benefits of my simple solution would be tremendous.”

Looks more like a simpleton’s solution.

Which is more probable: That the folks calling us the “Great Satan” who are envious of 7th century living conditions will 1) en masse, somehow let bygones be bygones contrary to 1300 years of experience or 2) will strike again with even more savagery and cunning?

Immigration officers can’t deal with that sport.

Blacklisted
Blacklisted

You failed to mention the irony of the EU (mostly Germany) wanting military protection from Russia, who they are also dependent on for energy. Trump wants to use this hypocrisy to replace Russian gas with gas from Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and LNG from the US), which of course is the reason for the 7-yr war in Syria, and counting. If the EU was not run by self-interested bureaucrats, they would scrap NATO and focus on economic relationships with Russia and anyone else that doesn’t want to do it through force and coercion. Unfortunately, BREXIT shows just how entrenched the establishment is, but hey, one can dream.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

NATO jumped the shark when Barry & Hillary let the Eurotrash persuade them to have the US taxpayer pay for bombing Libya into chaos, for no good reason. Now President Trump is thankfully pointing out that the unbalanced funding for NATO is unfair to Americans. The Eurotrash will respond only by whining, and NATO will go away. Mission accomplished!

If the Russians or the Chinese want Europe, they can have it. The whole of Europe is not worth the bones of one US soldier. But the Russians or Chinese had better be quick -- because of idiotic European policies, Europe will be Eurabia within two decades, and then it will be worthless.

wootendw
wootendw

"Which is more probable: That the folks calling us the “Great Satan” who are envious of 7th century living conditions will 1) en masse, somehow let bygones be bygones contrary to 1300 years of experience or 2) will strike again with even more savagery and cunning?"

FYI, Clintonstain, 1) the leader who called US "the Great Satan" has been dead for 29 years.

  1. How can they strike again when it is the US govt that starts the wars? None of the countries the US has attacked during the past quarter century, attacked US first, and that includes Afghanistan and Libya.

The US govt started all the wars and even gave Saddam the green light (with plausible deniability) to invade Kuwait.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

Mish said: "The US would make far fewer enemies if it minded its own business like China …"

The people of Vietnam, Philippines, Korea, Japan would be delighted if China would only 'mind its own business'. And that is not even mentioning the neo-colonial approach China has adopted in Africa and Pakistan.

The US should not be over there trying to protect an ungrateful world. Equally, Trump Derangement Syndrome should not blind anyone to the reality that China is becoming progressively more aggressive as it expands its influence internationally.

SpiderPig
SpiderPig

I would argue that Lord Ismay was concerned about the right topics and that NATO has only been effective one of the three. Russia has added to its sovereign (not USSR) borders and the United States now has a military presence in nearly a hundred countries. You could also argue that Germany has used the EU to advance its interests at the expense of the rest of Europe economically instead of militarily. So 0 for 3. NATO has effectively ceded their collective sphere of influence to the US in exchange for US security guarantees and leadership under NATO. The fact that the largest economy in the world is also spending at near wartime levels on its military should be reason enough for the rest of the world to reconsider its relationship with said country. Take sides and your country is going to be dragged into war or be the target of a MOAB. China is a whole 'nother mess.

Tengen
Tengen

So according to the few MIC honks on this thread, it appears we have two options:

  1. Spend ourselves to oblivion so that we can, um, continue fighting as inefficiently as possible to intentional stalemates and keep flooding the world with cheap heroin
  2. Have no military at all and dare China to run roughshod over the planet

Got it, glad we live in such a dystopian world. Now if these flag wavers would pause to think why we're only given these two ridiculous options, we might start asking the right questions and actually get somewhere.

MntGoat
MntGoat

"The people of Vietnam, Philippines, Korea, Japan would be delighted if China would only 'mind its own business'"..... ......don't forget Tibet which has been successfully “repopulated” with Han Chinese.

TheWindowCleaner
TheWindowCleaner

Donald Trump’s disintegrative naivety is of course stupid enough to be very concerned about, but all of his dithering idiocies may actually be a conscious or unconscious smoke screen for obscuring and never getting to the real power behind nations, their foreign policies and what is actually wrong with modern economies; and that is finance’s monopolistic paradigm of Debt/Burden/Cost Post Retail Sale Only.

Until we see this and come to grips with it by recognizing and implementing the new paradigm of Direct and Reciprocal Monetary Grace As In Gifting and its policies, we will stumble from one real or manufactured crisis to another and never progress systemically let alone culturally and as a species.

Envir
Envir

Cutting the US military budget to 1% of GDP is the best possible thing that the US can do for the economy and our security.

SleemoG
SleemoG

What is the name or URL of your blog Window Cleaner? I would like to read more about these ideas.

TheLege
TheLege

Ah, but you miss the nuance of this situation. What they mean to say is that Iran may be a threat to Israel. From here, you can work out the rest.

TheLege
TheLege

That cut would happen over a lot of dead bodies. Congress is bought and paid for by the MIC

Webej
Webej

The US only pays for 22% of NATO's budget. Obviously the US is not a reliable ally if it revolves around forcing Europe to purchase American weapons, which is what this is all about for Trump. How much the US wastes on coddling the MIC, how much it spends on obsolete aircraft carriers, or how much it spends in Korea and Japan is no guage for NATO spending. Look what NATO spending is good for: Ruining Libya, Syria, Afhanistan, Iraq, etc. Better off spending the money on building a better world.