Trump Can't Win by Punishing Germany on Defense

21 March, 2017, 13:38 | Author: Valerie Burke
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"Some part of the defense spending also goes to the UN-peace mission, into European missions and towards our contributions to the fight against ISIS terrorism".

German defence spending is set to rise by €1.4bn ($1.5bn) to €38.5bn ($41.4bn) in 2018 - a figure that is projected to represent 1.26% of economic output, the finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has said.

But Trump insinuated on Saturday that Germany has short-changed the alliance.

The instruction was non-binding, and some members - including Germany - ignored it. Von der Leyen, the defense minister who rebuked Trump, told German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle at the time that she saw no need for Germany to meet the commitment, as it was already the alliance's second-largest military contributor. Ms. Merkel acknowledged the idea and said that Germany recently boosted its military spending by 8 percent but also pointed out that Germany will not reach the 2 percent goal until 2024.

In an interview with the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung newspaper to be published Monday, Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also hit back at Trump's comments, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. "In order to achieve that, we need a modern understanding of security, including a modern North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but also a European defense organization as well as investment in the United Nations". "Americans can not care more for your children's security than you do". Washington overall contributes almost 70 percent of the alliance's defense spending. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark are three other small spenders on defense. Von der Leyen said countries that contribute more than what's expected of them in certain areas should be able to fall below the 2-percent target and still meet their obligations to the alliance. I don't expect any president to know everything, but if Trump has an interest in NATO, has firm opinions about NATO, and is tweeting about NATO, it's not too much to ask that he'd have some rudimentary understanding of the issue.

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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