Thursday, May 25, 2017

Considering Trump's Lecturing About NATO, Let's Look Again At NATO Expenses And Benefits

Trump apparently took his testosterone supplement today as demonstrated in this video from Politico where he shoves his way to the front of the photo op at NATO.  Or is he just jealous of the attention Montana House candidate Gainforte got for knocking down a reporter?
 He also went on to repeat his demands that all NATO members pay their 2% dues.

I realize that Trump gloms on to simplistic notions like this, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to accept his limited grasp of things.

I did some checking on the NATO formula in February of this year in response to a reader comment and it seems appropriate to repost the gist of it again today.  The whole post includes a comment by a reader  who says he was career army including as staff to National Security Council.  This isn't a comprehensive study, but it does raise questions that Trump's simplistic 2% mantra misses.

"NATO -   Basically they all say it’s more complicated than those numbers say:1.  There are different NATO budgets.  One is related to NATO non-military costs and each member pays according to a formula based on its GDP.  In that area, countries are paying pretty much according to the formula. 
2.  The Congressional Research Service says the US gets plenty of benefits from NATO
“DOD has noted that the United States has benefitted from NATO infrastructure support for several military operations, including the 1986 air strike on Libya, Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, Deny Flight, peacekeeping activities in the Balkans, as well as military operations in Afghanistan and training in Iraq. Finally, the Pentagon notes that U.S. companies have been successful in bidding on NSIP [NATO Security Investment Program] contracts.”
3.  When it comes to military contribution, the calculations include the total military expenditures for each country.  Most of the NATO countries only have troops related to Europe and NATO.  The calculation for the US includes all military spending world wide.  It’s true that some of those forces can be brought in, if needed, to deploy in Europe.  But it’s also true that the US troops in Europe are not solely to support NATO.  They can if needed, but they also support US military missions in other places - like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc.  So the calculations of those expenses, which make the US contribution look huge (less than your $700 million figure, but more than your 20% figure), are misleading because those expenses are for much, much more than defense of NATO. "

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