The 2018 NATO Summit was without a doubt the most hotly anticipated summit in recent years. Donald Trump’s Twitter antics had sparked fear among NATO supporters that Trump might abandon it altogether.
Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
However, with the UK’s defence spending currently at 2.10%, Trump appeared content with the UK. It should be noted that when publishing defence spending as a % of GDP, the MoD rather unusually include their pensions payouts, in an attempt to inflate the figure. Nonetheless, when NATO do their own independent audit, the UK remains compliant with the 2% baseline.
Notably, the UK is the only country other than the US that also spends 20% of it’s budget on equipment, the NATO requirement. When portrayed graphically, the result is stark.
Germany came off worst from the summit, with Trump complaining of Germany’s natural gas reliance on Russia, asking ‘What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy’. 35% of Germany’s natural gas is imported from Russia, with Trump evidently worried about the leverage that affords Russia over Germany.
Indeed, Trump reportedly threatened countries (with the UK excluded from this threat) that if they didn’t pay 2% by January 2019, “we are going to do our own thing”. He reportedly singled out the UK as a country to follow.
Trump did make some rather unusual claims however, notably “Prior to last year where I attended my first meeting, it was going down, the amount of money being spent by countries was going down and down very substantially, and now it’s going up very substantially.”
However, In real dollars, European spending rose from about $254 billion in 2014 to $275 billion in 2017. That’s over an 8 percent rise in three years.
He also, rather typically, contracdicted himself on a number of occaisons. He stated at a conference on Day 1 “I was not in favor of that [Iraq] war. I was very much against that war”. But, when asked if he supported the looming invasion during a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Trump said “Yeah, I guess so.”
Apart from Trump’s threat, it was a surprisingly uneventful summit. The UK however did not publish their Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), despite Mark Sedwill saying it would last month. The official line was the report was delayed. However, I’ve been told Downing Street never wanted to publish, instead preferring to wait until the Autumn spending review.
The report would have outlined the UK’s plans on how defence should evolve, and is expected to outline our strategy for cyber and EMW (Electro Magnetic Warfare) security.
NATO facts. US does not account for 90% NATO spending (Trump). It’s 22%. NATO Europe spends $250bn/year on defence, 2nd in world after US. Contrary to Trump’s claims, NATO did not agree to his demands. Merely reaffirmed 2014 agreement to spend more.
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) July 13, 2018