Yuma Sun

An increase in defense spending needed in Europe

Nato’s 2% of GDP target isn’t adequate as threats multiply

- The Wall Street Journal on a coming defense spending boost from Europe:

Vladimir Putin has thrown 97% of his army into Ukraine, U.K. officials said this week, and the Russian dictator is betting he can grind down the West’s will to resist. So it’s good news NATO members are rethinking their current defense commitment­s.

North Atlantic Treaty Organizati­on Secretary General Jens Stoltenber­g said Wednesday that the alliance would this summer revisit the pledge that members spend 2% of their economy on national defense. “What is obvious is that if it was right to commit to spend 2% in 2014,” Mr. Stoltenber­g said, “it is even more right now.” The world is “more dangerous,” with a “full-fledged war going on” in Europe, plus terrorism and the threat from China. The 2% target ought to be not “a ceiling” but “a floor.”

Hear, hear. The median outlay for NATO members is 1.65% of GDP, according to data the alliance put out last year, and it’s no secret that some countries are slackers. The dishonor roll of more than a dozen countries includes Spain (a pitiful 1.01% estimated for 2022), Canada (1.27%), Denmark (1.39%), and Hungary (1.55%).

Germany and others have vowed to pick up the pace, but GOP Senate Leader Mitch Mcconnell noted at the Munich Security Conference Friday that while he appreciate­s “the rhetorical shift on this continent regarding defense,” he learned long ago in the U.S. Senate that “speeches are not policy.” The new NATO target ought to be at least 3%, while raising the current NATO benchmark that 20% of spending be on equipment.

That means more air defense, artillery, aircraft, ships and other hard power, not pensions or vanity procuremen­t projects. Ukraine is burning through 6,000 artillery shells a day, and production lines are struggling to keep up. Donated air defenses are working hard against everything from drones to cruise missiles. Ukraine needs more tanks, but some like Spain’s Leopards have been mothballed for years and are in dubious shape.

The U.S. can also do more, especially as American defense spending has fallen to 3% of GDP, close to a post-cold War low. Press reports say the Biden Administra­tion is telling Ukraine it can’t offer longrange missiles for Himars rocket systems because the U.S. doesn’t have enough of them. That’s either an excuse or an indictment of America’s weapons stocks.

Russia’s invasion should have jolted the West out of its welfare-state reverie, but that will require spending more on hard defenses to deter Russia and other rogues.

This editorial originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal, and is reprinted here via the Associated Press. Read more online: https://www.wsj.com

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