Ulrike Franke Profile picture
Jul 10, 2018 13 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
It appears that not only the US president is unclear about what the NATO 2% GDP guideline actually means. So let me spell this out: (thread)
In 2002, NATO agreed it would be a good idea if all NATO members spent about 2% of their national GDPs on their defence capabilities. Why 2%? No particular reason other that it sounded about right, and wasn't too far from actual spending while lower than Cold War spending.
By 2014, the security situation in Europe had deteriorated quite a lot, as Russia annexed Crimea.
When NATO members met in Wales that year, they decided to reaffirm the goal of having all members spend 2% on their national defences.
In the official summit text, NATO members agreed that those members that were not yet reaching the 2% should move toward it within a decade. Hence, until 2024.
So to be very very clear:
1. The 2% is a (somewhat arbitrary) guideline on how much NATO members should spend on their militaries. It is NOT a membership fee, or what member states pay TO NATO.
2. It is aspirational (though in rather clear terms).
3. Member states agreed to meet it by 2024.
This was the easy bit (or so I thought!)
But let's move to some more interesting things. For one, let's look at a graph from @MunSecConf which I think is very helpful.
This @MunSecConf graph shows that even if all non-NATO members were to spend 2% of their GDPs on their national militaries, the US would continue to provide the largest share of the total defence expenditure.
Look at the bottom row: In this scenario, everyone, US included, spends 2%GDP on their defence. By the sheer size of the US economy, it spends 52% of the total.
Again - this is money spend on the US military. But it means that in no scenario does the US not outspend the others
Moving up from the bottom are the more likely scenarios. Why more likely? Because the US - out of its own free will - decides that it generally likes to spend more than 2% of its GDP on its military.
It gets more complicated. Because sure, the US spends more than all #NATO allies combined, but is all that spending for Europe? Or course it isn't!
In fact, @IISS_org calculated how much money the US spends on European security.
You want to guess?
"US direct spending on European defence currently amounts to just over 5% of the total US defence budget, as measured by the IISS."
And to finish this way too long of a thread - what @Julie_C_Smith said.

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