Another Trump success story?--NATO to increase defense spending to meet targets

AP:
The NATO chief urged allies on Tuesday to step up their defense spending, a day ahead of the first meeting between new U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his 27 NATO counterparts in Brussels.

U.S. President Donald Trump suggested during his campaign that he might not defend allies who refuse to contribute their fair share. His comments have alarmed European nations, particularly those near Russia's border, like Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

"Fair burden-sharing and increased defense spending underpins the trans-Atlantic alliance," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. "If we reduce defense spending in times when tensions are going down, we have to be able to increase defense spending when tensions are going up, as they are now."

While the Trump administration is weighing its defense commitments to Europe, NATO leaders have already committed to halting spending cuts and raising their military budgets to 2 percent of gross domestic product.

But apart from the United States, only four other NATO member countries do so — Britain, Estonia, Poland and debt-ridden Greece, according to NATO figures.

Low defense spending is not a new problem for NATO but it has taken on greater prominence as allies struggle to fathom what Trump might actually demand from them and amid Russia's increasingly aggressive acts.

After the end of the Cold War in 1990, European nations reined in their military budgets and the 2008 economic crisis only forced further cuts.

Still, concern about the growing shortfall and the damage it was doing to defense research and development was already on NATO's radar a decade ago. Successive NATO chiefs have warned of the dangers of not doing more.
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Germany has been especially derelict in its defense spending while being generous with refugee resettlements which have had a negative impact on the country.  Estonia and Poland still have vivid memories of the oppression of living under Soviet domination and both are in the line of fire should Russia move on Europe.  They have both been good allies since joining NATO.

This should be good news for the US and for the alliance and Trump deserves some credit for focusing the Europeans on the problem.  Typically, the hostile media has mostly ignored this success story and is pushing a narrative that the Trump administration is already on collapse.

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