From the Economist: Once they lobbied hard to join NATO. After Russia’s war with Georgia, they begged for coherent plans to defend them. But now the alliance’s eastern members are finding it hard to keep defence spending anywhere near 2% of GDP, the official NATO target they agreed to meet. Poland does best: Barack Obama will announce the stationing of a squadron of F-16s there when he visits Warsaw on May 27th. But others are at 1% or even less, or are unrepentantly heading in that direction (see chart). . . .
Atlanticist sentiment is ebbing on both sides of the ocean. Once-eager support for American-led wars has faded, shown by the easterners’ reluctance to play a role in Libya. Defence spending seems a waste of money on costly foreign-made kit. Many in Washington are cross: their defence planners face hard choices, too. Why spend money protecting ungrateful, stay-at-home skinflints?
Yet the easterners are not only NATO’s weakest members, but also its most exposed. . . .
Estonia, the smallest of the three, is the only one that comes close to the 2% target: “a model alliance member,” comments an American official. The line on low-spending Latvia and Lithuania is icy silence. (graphic: Economist)