Donald Trump Rails Against German Defense Spending Shortfall
(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued May 18, 2018)
US President Donald Trump said NATO members, such as Germany, that do not meet defense spending targets will be "dealt with." Germany is far from being on track to meet the alliance's 2 percent of GDP target.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday again took aim at German defense spending, saying that NATO members that do not meet commitments would be "dealt with."

At a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington, Trump praised seven other alliance members for paying the amount "they're supposed to be paying."

"We have some that don't and, well, they'll be dealt with," Trump said. Germany, he added, "has not contributed what it should be contributing and it's a very big beneficiary."

"In particular, Germany must demonstrate leadership in the alliance by addressing its longstanding shortfall in defense contributions," Trump said.

Stoltenberg says Trump's pressure is working

The US president has repeated railed against Germany for falling below NATO defense spending commitments.

NATO agreed in 2014 that all 29 members would spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024.

In addition to the United States, only Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, and the United Kingdom meet the target.

Stoltenberg said Trump's "leadership on defense spending has really helped to make a difference."

"It is impacting allies because now all allies are increasing defense spending," he said. "No allies are cutting their budgets."

Germany falling way short

Last year, Germany only spent 1.2 percent of GDP on defense. The 2018 budget envisions 1.3 percent of GDP going to defense. Despite defense spending increases expected over the coming years, Berlin will still fall far short of meeting its commitments due to economic growth.

Faced with Trump's criticism on spending in the past, German politicians have argued that other expenditures, such as on development and humanitarian aid, should be included in spending calculations rather than only the size of the defense budget.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs plans for Germany's defense budget to eventually reach 2 percent of GDP. However, her Christian Democrat's junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, are against massive defense spending increases and demand funds be used more efficiently.

The German military faces multiple problems that have raised serious questions about its capabilities and readiness, which have led to calls for the defense budget to be increased.


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