Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Some Basics in Burden-Sharing

I shouldn't have to do this, but because of Trump's profound ignorance, I thought I should spend a few minutes explaining the NATO burden-sharing challenge.*

Trump said this:
It is as if Trump thinks that NATO members pay the United States to protect them, and that they have fallen short of their dues.  THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS!!

How does it work?  While NATO HQ does get contributions for all members to run, the burden sharing debate is not about that.  No, it is about whether countries are spending enough of their own money on THEIR OWN armed forces.  Canada is among the worst countries (ssshh!!! Don't blow Canada's Duck and Cover or 5D strategy),** as it spends less than one percent of its gross domestic product on its armed forces.  The NATO standard is 2% which very few countries meet.***  The US spends far more, but much of what the US spends is not for the defense of Europe/Atlantic.

Anyhow, the key point is this: if NATO countries were to share the burden better, the US would not be getting any more money from the allies.  Indeed, Trump plans to spend more money on the military (despite being a confused isolationist), so even if NATO countries kick in more, the US will not save anything.

The problem? My guess is that Trump sees NATO as a protection racket that is not fully exploited.  That NATO countries should be paying tribute to the US for defending Europe.  Of course, what this blithely ignores is that peace and prosperity in Europe is in America's interest.  But Trump just sees Europeans as competitors.  If only we can explain to him that Europeans buy our stuff, invest in the US since our workers are cheaper and our standards are lower, etc.

In short, FFS!

*  By the way, heaps of academic literature on the problem of alliance burden-sharing, starting with Mancur Olson.
**  Dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge.
*** the 2% metric is not perfect as Greece ranks highly despite not actually doing much for the alliance.  Canada does a whole lot whenever the alliance deploys, but its defence spending shortfalls are proving problematic

No comments: