NATO

Mattis Tells NATO to Pay Up or U.S. Will Pull Back—Why Not Both?

Mattis meets with defense chiefs in Brussels.

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Defense Secretary James Mattis delivered a warning about military spending to fellow defense heads at a NATO meeting in Brussels that focused on "ensuring NATO's strength and flexibility in the face of evolving challenges."

"No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values," Mattis said according to Bloomberg. "Americans cannot care more for your children's future security than you do."

"I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country's people in concrete terms," Mattis told the defense chiefs, according to NBC News. "America will meet its responsibilities, but your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense."

Mattis received support from some of the other chiefs in attendance. Ursula von der Leven, Germany's defense chief, called it a "question of fairness" that the European members of NATO all contribute and "don't excessively rely on the Americans."

Germany was estimated to have spent 1.19 percent of its GDP on defense in 2016—well short of the 2 percent NATO guideline. Just five countries hit at least 2 percent of GDP in military spending: Poland at 2 percent, Estonia at 2.16 percent, the United Kingdom at 2.21 percent, Greece at 2.38 percent, and the United States at number one with 3.61 percent.

The defense secretary for the United Kingdom, Michael Fallon, also backed Mattis' comments, telling his colleagues Congress would not continue to "tolerate unequal burden-sharing." He told reporters afterward that a commitment to an annual increase would "demonstrate good faith."

Mattis said he wanted NATO to come up with a plan to get members to the 2 percent GDP goal that had measurable milestones. He also took the time to focus on the threat posed by Russia, telling fellow defense chiefs that while the U.S. remained open to "opportunities to restore a cooperative relationship with Moscow" it would not "surrender the values of this alliance nor let Russia, through its actions, speak louder than anyone in this room." Former Lt. General Michal Flynn resigned as national security advisor earlier this week in the midst of a controversy over phone calls to the Russian ambassador to the U.S. which are being investigated by the FBI.

But the U.S., and NATO, ought to contemplate a moderation of American commitment to NATO. An over-reliance on U.S. military spending and leadership, after all, has exposed NATO Europe to the risk identified by Mattis. Were Europe as committed to continental defense as it has been to fiscal, monetary and political union, it would not be in as vulnerable position vis a vis Russia. A commitment to its own defense might have even helped with the wider project of unity by grounding it in something other than the self-absorbed vision of bureaucrats in Brussels. Despite the future of the European Union being in question lately, it may not be too late for Europe to renew its project of integration through taking responsibility for its defense. The U.S. could help but scaling back its commitments as Europe shoulders more of its own.

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  1. Any hint as to whether or not the Ex-Im bank will finance the purchases of the US-made aircraft, tanks and weapons systems that will push these countries over the 2% line?

    1. Or maybe Dealmaker Donnie will offer his Crazy Deal of the Week – buy 1 billion in USD, get 2 billion in Eurocredits toward your NATO commitment! Act now! Limited time offer, restrictions may apply. Plus tax, tag, and title. Offer void where prohibited.

      1. And, of course, YMMV.

    2. Free guns. Ammunition must be paid for in cash.

  2. How about the UN budget too?

    Considering we foot so much of the bill for all this shit, we really ought to have a larger share of the vote.

    1. that will likely follow. Fainting couch sales to spike.

      1. .I googled the “UN council on human rights” and it wasn’t as bad as I thought..

        You only have countries like Cuba, China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Rwanda…

  3. I’m confused. Am I at Reason?

    I see relevant information. Facts, full quotes, and some analysis. Where’s the hysterical pants shitting?

    Oh yeah, it’s Ed.

    Keep up the good work, Ed.

    Reason writers, take note of what journalism looks like.

    1. Yep. Today has been a great day article wise. I was getting kind of sick about cheeto jesus articles

        1. hey, I luvs me some cheeto jebbus!!!

  4. None of the NATO countries examined have the funding or the domestic support to fully modernise their militaries and comprehensively develop their individual defence capacity. More defence cooperation among allies is the only realistic way forward. (From 2014)

    This is how much NATO member states spend on their military (From 2015) The chart visible through use of this link might surprise those of us who believed the oft-repeated narrative that President Obama didn’t spend enough on the U.S. government’s military.

    1. Oops – I should have included that when I read “More defense cooperation among allies is the only realistic way forward” I interpreted it to mean more defense spending by the United States government and a very few other members, and especially more cooperative spending by the United States government.

    2. Might be interesting to see how that military spending breaks down in actual military spending terms. Like, for example, how much of the US military spending is VA benefits and retirement pay for ex-military versus how much of China’s conscript army are getting any bennies at all besides two square meals a day and a real pair of shoes? How much does the US spend on shipping air conditioners and the generators to run them over to desert outposts versus how much does China spend on big sticks to beat any sonofabitch that dares complain about the weather?

      1. Shh! You’re crimping the narrative! US defense spending is about 1/3 Personnel (Wages and bennies), 1/3 new capital (ships, planes, and tanks), and 1/3 O&M. And the cost largest increase this century? Personnel.

        1. NAS, I realty don’t care if it is devoted to shitters or the paper to supply them; we have no threat requiring that expenditure.
          Cut it by, oh, 66% and we can worry about Canukistan and Mexico.

          1. The the Chinaman and Russkies will rule the Eurasian land mass!
            We will not be the GREATEST anymore.

            We’ll always have Airstrip One.

    3. Maybe we should just ask that, if we are shouldering a disproportionate share of defense spending, that they can in turn provide, say, spending on healthcare for US citizens. America likes spending money on guns, they like spending money on welfare, even for foreigners, so let’s play to our strengths.

  5. Mattis said he wanted NATO to come up with a plan to get members to the 2 percent GDP goal that had measurable milestones.

    Do those “measurable milestones” include penalties for failure to meet the goals or is this some of the aspirational goal-setting, the “good intentions” most government programs are judged by?

    I’d vote for this guy for Prez in a heartbeat if he promised to put all government programs on this same plan – set some concrete benchmarks and if you fail to meet them the whole program gets axed. Everybody knows goobernment programs cost twice as much and take twice as long to deliver half as much as promised – and where else but government are you allowed to get away with this bullshit of low-balling the estimate and then “unexpectedly” finding reasons to jack up the price and downgrade the product and the customer just has to eat it?

    1. /where else but government are you allowed to get away with this bullshit of low-balling the estimate and then “unexpectedly” finding reasons to jack up the price and downgrade the product and the customer just has to eat it?/

      Virtually every construction project I was involved in – the vendors low ball and then make it up on all the change-orders that the customer left out of the original RFQ or decided later to go bigger or better.

  6. Were Europe as committed to continental defense as it has been to fiscal, monetary and political union, it would not be in as vulnerable position vis a vis Russia. A commitment to its own defense might have even helped with the wider project of unity by grounding it in something other than the self-absorbed vision of bureaucrats in Brussels.

    Good piece, Ed.

    tho this…

    Were Europe as committed to continental defense as it has been to fiscal, monetary and political union, it would not be in as vulnerable position vis a vis Russia.

    …is sort of funny.

    given its fiscal, monetary, and political union is an utter wreck and on a path to collapse…? maybe not the best comparison.

    Basically, they should be glad that Russia has been a general wreck themselves through the 1990s/2000s, and only now has started to be ‘problematic’.

  7. Well now that we’re ‘allies’ with Russia we no longer need to defend ourselves from them. That should reduce defense spending, and as a millenial, that will save me money. I gotta hand it to Trump. So glad I voted for him!

  8. OT, but too predictable to pass up.
    Last year, we in CA were assured that the drought was the new normal ’cause AGW, and we’d better buy some of moonbeam’s hair shirt supply before it runs out.
    Well, that particular line has pretty much gone the way of ‘the population bomb!’. But now:

    “An Oroville message: As climate shifts, so will water strategies
    […]
    “Neglect of infrastructure has played a clear and primary role ? with homes being evacuated because of signs that the dam’s emergency spillway is failing to safely carry even a portion of the overflow it’s licensed to handle.By contrast, the connection to climate change is less clear. Most climate scientists say it’s hard to prove that global warming directly causes a specific extreme weather event. What they do say, though, is that warmer temperatures make the chances of such episodes occurring more likely.
    In fact, the Oroville incident is raising what may be an overdue debate over how water managers can better adapt to new climate realities.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Envir…..strategies

    So Oroville tells us that we need to actually inspect vital infrastructure projects and, uh. *****CLIMATE CHANGE****, ’cause how else are they gonna get clicks?
    What a pathetic piece of ‘journalism’.

    1. it’s not journalism, it’s religion. My lord, the things that this climate change can cause is all-encompassing.

      1. Up? – climate change.
        Down? – climate change.
        Left? – climate change.
        Right? – climate change.
        Hot? – climate change.
        Cold? – climate change.
        Wet? – climate change.
        Dry? – climate change.
        Dog don’t like you? – climate change.
        Some local outlet went so far as to quote Peter Gleick, ignoring that the slimy POS falsified his identity in the hopes of getting the dirt.
        He got busted:

        1. “On February 20, 2012, Gleick announced he was responsible for the unauthorized distribution of documents from The Heartland Institute in mid-February. Gleick reported he had received “an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy”, and in trying to verify the authenticity of the document, had “solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name”.[44] Responding to the leak, The Heartland Institute said one of the documents released, a two-page ‘Strategy Memo’, had been forged.[45] Gleick denied forging the document. Gleick described his actions as “a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics” and said that he “deeply regret[ted his] own actions in this case” and “offer[ed his] personal apologies to all those affected”. He stated that “My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts ? often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated ? to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”
          Whoever can ‘correct’ on Wiki needs to make the correction that he’s a lying piece of shit; to be trusted every much as the bum on the corner.

          1. BTW, that quote was from WIKI and given that his malfeasance is buried down 8 paragraphs or so is the reason I’ll ignored whines from WIKI.
            Run ads! If the advertisers don’t like you, you can go broke.

            1. soooo, his resignation is effective on the 12th of fucking never?

    2. “the dam’s emergency spillway is failing to safely carry even a portion of the overflow it’s licensed to handle”

      Well, at least the dam has a license. Let’s see how this plays out.

  9. NATO, like the UN, freeloads off the USA.
    US out of NATO
    UN out of the USA.

    The land the UN uses could be made into a nice development. The UN could be relocated to Afghanistan.

  10. Germania is where glory is won. The outposts on the river are what keep us citizens safe.

    1. Well, they did tear Arsenhole a new one….

  11. “KKK, other hate groups showing up in Bay Area”
    […]
    “It turns out that the Bay Area’s reputation as a bastion of tolerance doesn’t make it immune to hate groups ? eight of them, in fact, according to a new list compiled by a national watchdog group.
    […]
    In all, there are two more hate groups in the Bay Area than in 2015, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/…..935682.php

    Just so you know how “tolerant” the bay area is, and what sort of metrics are used; SPLC can suck turd’s ass.

    1. Those groups are a serious threat in the Bay Area. There are seventeen members that belong to those eight hate groups.

      1. Five of them are informants for BAFT and seven are informants for the FBI.
        The other five are actual local cops who hate brown people.

        1. what about all the hipsters that secretly hate homeless people?

  12. Where does 2% of GDP come from? Why is that some kind of goal?

    1. Because it is in the fuckin’ treaty. NATO members are required to spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. That most don’t is good cause for the USA to abrogate the NATO treaty and politely suggest our former partners pick up a good used Russian phrase book.

  13. Completely off-topic, but I am going to change my Reason handle, just for a larf.

    1. Costco chicken Caesar?

  14. France and the UK have nukes. What threat is Russia to Europe? How are they going to pour thousands of tanks through the Fulda Gap in the face of that?

    1. The Russians would have to get past a couple hundred thousand well-trained and well-equipped Polish troops before they even got close to the Fulda Cap.

      1. sooo, “a couple hundred thousand” in Polish = “2” in English…need a better translation dictionary.

      2. -1 Davey Crockett.

  15. In 1951, Eisenhower said that if NATO lasted 10 years, it would have been a failure. We don’t want the Europeans dependent on us for their national security. Forty years later, NATO was still going strong when the USSR, the reason for its existence, fell apart. Now it’s 25 years after that and the institution that refuses to die (why should it when so many live on its gravy train?) continues to pull American dollars away from other needs to babysit a bunch of snooty nations who look down their noses at the “primitive” Americans and their lack of stupendous social programs *paid for by American taxpayers* since that money is saved from their own security budgets.

    Worse than that, NATO is exactly the same kind of tinderbox of interlinked alliances that made so many nations, for “honor,” fall into a world war that lasted four grinding years, killing more men than all the wars in history combined without coming to any real conclusion but the execrable “peace” of Versailles, which set up the next round of the world war: another war that killed more men than all the wars in history combined, including WW1.

    The time is long overdue to talk, not of scaling down, but of eliminating NATO altogether.

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