ANGELA MERKEL: GERMANY TO HEAVILY INCREASE BUNDESWEHR BUDGET

Deutsche Welle on October 16, 2016, reported that the German chancellor says Germany will spend billions more than currently budgeted on its military. This comes in response to criticism from the United States that fellow NATO members don’t contribute enough to mutual defense. Excerpts below:

German taxpayers will be asked to shell out more money – lots more money – to fund the country’s army, the Bundeswehr. That was one message that Chancellor Angela Merkel had at a conference of young conservatives this weekend in the city of Paderborn.

Merkel told representatives from her Christian Democratic Union’s youth organizations that Germany would be increasing its military spending to 2 percent of GDP, in line with an agreement that NATO states reached in 2014. The country currently spends around 1.2 percent of GDP on the Bundeswehr.

“In the 21st century, we won’t be getting as much help as we got in the 20th,” Merkel said. “We need to greatly increase the Bundeswehr budget to get from 1.2 to 2 percent.”

To meet that target, Germany’s defense spending would have to rise to some 60 billion euros ($65.8 billion). The current planned military budget for the year 2020 is 39.2 billion euros.

The contributions that NATO members make to the costs of the alliance are calculated with reference to their gross national income. Currently the US bears around 22 percent of NATO costs, compared with 15 percent for Germany, 11 percent for France and 10 percent for the United Kingdom.

According to official White House figures, the US contributed $685 million (624 million euros) of NATO’s $2.8 billion (2.5 billion euros) in common-funding budgets. Recent Department of Defense information indicates that the US has typically spent less than $500 million (456 million euros) to support NATO operations per year.

… there is an imbalance between what the United States contributes to mutual security and what its allies do. And there is a general consensus that the situation will have to change…

“Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” Dick Cody, the senior vice president of major American defense contractor L-3 Communications, said at a shareholders meeting last December. “We haven’t seen the budgets yet, but we know that uptick is coming, and so we postured ourselves for it.”

…with unease over the Kremlin’s intentions increasing after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, there is public support in Germany for beefing up the Bundeswehr. In a poll carried out in late December 2015, 56 percent of respondents favored increasing the size of Germany’s military, compared with 30 percent who rejected the idea.

Merkel was able to push through a 1.2 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) increase in the Bundeswehr’s budget between 2015 and 2016, so Germany is set to spend 35 billion euros ($38 billion) on defense this year. But a lot more money than that will have to be allocated if Berlin is to reach the NATO target any time soon.

Comment: That Germany now has committed to increasing the defense costs to 2 percent of GDP is most welcome. One can only hope that other NATO nations will follow the German example. If Sweden wants to join NATO in the future it would have to raise defense budget allocations from around 1,1 percent to 2,0 percent of GDP. That would mean almost doubling defense spending. The present Swedish government of center-left, however, is living in a pacifist dream world. A likely Swedish center-right government will hopefully be more realistic when it takes over in 2018, but by then it might be too late. The Russian aggressive pressure in the Baltic Sea area is growing.

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