As US President Donald Trump’s meetings with NATO leaders is in the news this week, I thought this would be a timely subject on which to post. As I’m sure most readers realize, President Trump is putting intense pressure on NATO nations to live up to their commitments to spend 2% of their national GNP’s on defense spending to strengthen their commitment to the NATO alliance. As the first link notes, only five NATO nations (the USA, UK, Poland, Estonia
Let’s look at two NATO nations for a contrast in their very divergent attitudes toward national defense. These nations are Germany and Poland. Germany barely has a military worth mentioning, as the second and third links indicate. The second link reports that Germany’s air force is in a terrible state of readiness. Its front-line warplanes are aging and obsolescent. It is bad enough that Germany has not upgraded its air force with truly modern warplanes, but even the warplanes it has are so poorly maintained that the vast majority of them are not combat-ready due to parts shortages. The third link adds that Germany’s army is so unready for combat that it uses civilian vehicles to fill in for armored vehicles in military exercises and that German soldiers have even had to simulate guns with broomsticks painted black. It also adds that none of Germany’s six submarines are currently ready for operational duty. Is it any wonder that President Trump is frustrated with Germany’s foot-dragging on maintaining a military force worthy of one of NATO’s major nations? Germany is an industrial powerhouse so it could easily have a military that would meet its NATO obligations. It simply chooses not to do so. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany has gone pacifist.
Now consider Poland, Poland is already at the 2% percentage goal, but they are offering to boost their military spending in a way that proves the Poles are serious about their national defense. The fourth link and fifth link offer information on Poland’s offer to spend $2 billion (US) of their own money to build a permanent military base for US troops and armored forces that could be given to US forces relocating to Poland. That should be a most attractive offer to President Trump and the US military. My own reaction is that the USA should accept the offer and relocate US troops from German bases to Polish facilities when they are ready. I wonder if Germany has ever paid billions of dollars to the USA for the protection the US military has given Germany ever since the Cold War began. They surely should have done so, but I do not know the answer to that question. As part of an upgraded NATO deployment plan which considers that fact that East European and Baltic nations are now in NATO, not the Warsaw Pact, it would make sense to forward-deploy some American troops eastward. Doing so would upset Russia, but then Russia never asked NATO’s approval for their invasion and annexation of the Crimea or their support of the war in Eastern Ukraine.
Why is Germany so derelict in meeting its own defense needs? Do they have a secret desire to commit new defense spending allocations to a new EU military force instead of NATO? Germany and France have periodically called for an EU military force, which would be commanded by unelected EU bureaucrats in Brussels rather than NATO commanders I suppose. That does not
We are at a critical juncture in NATO’s history. Like the EU, NATO is experiencing growing internal stresses. Besides military budget conflicts, another major internal stress is the fact that Turkey, the NATO nation with the biggest army in the European theater, is increasingly “going rogue.” It’s leader, President Recep Erdogan, is steadily turning Turkey into an autocratic and Islamist nation controlled by Erdogan. Turkey has also ordered a modern Russian air defense system instead of an American/European air defense system. Turkey seems to not know who its friends are
As we watch the growing stresses inside the EU, we also need to watch the growing stresses inside NATO. Some unexpected realignments and developments may be occurring in our foreseeable future.
I’d like to thank a reader who sent me one of these links.