A little History
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation(NATO)) is an intergovernmental military alliance with over 28 member nations contributing to 70% of the world’s military spending. It is required for all nations to spend at least 2% of their total GDP on defence.
- With more than 60 years in the NATO, American military spending (3.61%) has always overshadowed other allies’ budgets since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s founding in 1949. But the gap has grown all the more post September 11, 2001.
- The new membership in the alliance has largely been from Central and Eastern Europe which is often seen by the Russians as an extension of Cold War efforts by the West with the intention of isolating and surrounding Russia.
- The NATO already has on its Eastern border with Russia some four battalions to the Baltic states and Poland, 5000 troops on high readiness state and a 40000-strong Response force that included military personnel from all NATO states, including UK. In October this year, an announcement of stationing around 4000 troops near Russian border was made to strengthen the border. This is the largest military buildup since the Cold War.
After Trump’s arrival
- The West faces its greatest security challenge ahead after Trump suggested that the US would think twice before giving military aid to any NATO ally if they didn’t pay their dues.
- Only five out of 28 countries meet the ‘2% of GDP into defence’ target. Even NATO agrees to their ‘over reliance’ on US that spends as much as 3.61% whereas the second largest spender is Greece with only 2.38%.
- This has created hustle and bustle not just in Eastern Europe that is now more wary of a potential Russian attack but also in bigger nations. It was quite evident when NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned US President-elect Donald Trump that doing it alone is not an option for either Europe or the United States.
- US alone accounts for 70% of spending in NATO but this might be a major strategy. Experts suggest the threat was only a tactic for Trump’s campaign and that this might force other nations to raise their spending and make NATO stronger eventually against Russia or any potential threat.
Also after a conference held in Brussels on 19th Nov ’16, NATO sec Gen Stoltenberg projected that one of the top priorities now is increasing European defence spending giving an indication of a stronger NATO.