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By Jacob Bojesson
NATO figures show several countries are far below the 2 percent of GDP spending criteria as the Trump administration pushes for countries to increase spending under threat of a more “moderate” commitment from their strongest ally.
Out of the alliance’s 28 members, just five meet the spending goal. U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis issued an ultimatum to NATO allies Wednesday regarding their reluctance to prioritize spending. (RELATED: Mattis Warns NATO: Pay Up)
“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values,” Mattis said. “Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do. Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened.”
Only the U.S., the U.K., Greece, Poland and Estonia currently meet the spending requirement according to numbers released in December. America tops the list at 3.61 percent, followed by Greece at 2.38 percent of GDP.
Luxembourg and Belgium are at the bottom of the list with 0.44 percent and 0.85 percent of GDP spending on defense, respectively. Spain, Slovenia and Canada are the other three countries below 1 percent.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said America’s allies raised their spending by a combined $10 billion in 2016. (RELATED: Trump Win? NATO Allies About To Increase Defense Spending)
“The most important thing is we increase defense spending, and that is exactly what we are doing,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday. “It is an important step. But it is not enough. We have to do more.”
A select few countries are responsible for the 3.8 percent overall increase. Germany — which turned pacifist after starting and losing two world wars in the 20th century — has announced a number of new defense initiatives with France, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic. The country is still far below the mark at 1.19 percent of GDP in defense spending.
Other major allies — including France (1.78 percent), Turkey (1.56) and Italy (1.11) — are also below the mark.
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