June 18, 2018
Winning on NATO: Trump Won't Take Yes for an Answer
By Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal
Overall inflation-adjusted military spending by every NATO member excluding America grew 1.8% in 2015, 3.1% in 2016, and 4.8% last year. America's Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, predicted earlier this month that 2018 could see the largest annual spending increase since the Cold War. NATO's secretariat estimates that more than half of the treaty's 29 members are on track to hit 2% level by 2024, compared to four or five (including the U.S.) in a typical year before 2014....
Mr. Trump complained in his weekend tweet that Germany "pays 1% (slowly) of GDP" toward defense. That's not correct, though Berlin doesn't deserve a gold star for the real figure, 1.2%. Still, Berlin is budgeting for a 6% spending increase, in inflation-adjusted terms, in its latest fiscal plan. That's real money even if Germany's steady economic growth means that hitting the 2% of GDP measure would require large spending hikes in the short term.
Mr. Trump can help the cause now by continuing to apply diplomatic pressure on NATO allies to stick to their 2014 pledges while diplomatically giving them some credit for the progress they've already made. You'd think a consummate artist of the deal would know how to take yes for an answer.