Why should the US continue to supply 73% of NATO funds? Shouldn’t Germany step in and spend more

No Comments » April 14th, 2016 posted by // Categories: World Affairs




Why should the US continue to supply 73% of NATO funds? Shouldn’t Germany step in and spend more?

5 Answers

Jean-Christophe Chazalette

Jean-Christophe Chazalette

9.7k Views • Upvoted by Igor Markov, Lived on the East Coast, on the West Coast and in the Midwest, Joachim Pense, German, Tilman Ahr, Berliner, trained Chef, ex-Student of history and engineering

The USA doesn’t supply 73% of the NATO funds.

NATO members contribute to the budget in accordance with an agreed cost-sharing formula based on relative Gross National Income (GNI).

NATO is actually divided into three different budgets:

  • civil budget
  • military budget
  • NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP)

These are the percentages of contributions, valid until 31/12/2015, for the 28 countries:

The USA is indeed the main contributor, around 22%. Then comes Germany (14.5%), France (11%) and UK (10.5%).

Considering that the contributions are based on the GNI, it’s not likely that the USA provides 73% of the funds any time in the future.

PS: I add this clarification after reading the answer from David Joyce. The reference to NATO in the  Wall Street Journal is strictly didactic and has nothing to do with the NATO budgeted expenditures. The editor has just used the NATO database (Page on www.nato.int) to compare military expenditures of the NATO countries. Obviously, the editor introduced a regrettable confusion – as demonstrated by the question on Quora. It is not about the NATO budget but about the military expenditures of the NATO countries.

The figure of 73% is therefore meaningless – that is, not NATO related. Just remember the huge cost of the American interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. This military cost is included in the figure of 73%, it is indeed military spending, even if Germany and France, two major contributors to NATO, refused to participate in the intervention in Iraq and did not pay a dime on it. The USA has considerable military spending, it’s a choice. David Joyce‘s conclusion should be approved.

David Joyce

David Joyce, always learning

3.6k Views • Upvoted by Joachim Pense, German

The correct statement is “The U.S. accounts for about 73% of the roughly $1 trillion in total military spending by NATO countries each year.”

European countries have for years spent less on defense than the U.S. relative to the size of their economies and have cut back further in recent years so that the U.S. accounts for 73% of NATO’s military spending. Now, some countries say they will reconsider—even though they don’t think more military spending would have changed events in Ukraine.

Obama Tells Russia: We Will Defend NATO MembersWall Street Journal, March 26, 2014

The 73% includes all the defense expenditures of NATO countries, not just those expenditures that are in the NATO budget.  It’s so high for the United States because the US spends much more on defense than on just NATO.  In fact, in 2012, the US spent 6 times as much on defense than China, the country with the second highest expense.

H.S. Friedman, 5 Countries With the Highest Military ExpenditureHuffington Post,11/29/2011

If there are any corrections to be made, shouldn’t they be made by the United States to reduce expenditures?

Wouter van Burik

Wouter van Burik, is interested in NATO stuff

2.4k Views • Wouter is a Most Viewed Writer in NATO.

Let’s omit Germany and think of ‘European NATO members’ instead. After all, it’s not like Germany is the absolute big player of Europe. It is the mightiest, but not by far. The reason the European NATO members (let’s call them OTAN, the French name of NATO) have been spending far less is because 1) they are more isolationist than the USA and 2) they have stronger anti-war sentiment. Another big reason is because OTAN believes more in solving conflicts via diplomacy and rules. The Russian invasion of the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine shows us that this is not a good way to go because once someone decides to take the path of Realpolitik it falls apart.

Even in the 21st century, as much as OTAN doesn’t like it, might still makes right. Up until now OTAN kept on to this, but because of the Russian actions they have been stirred. It is, in the words of NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen a ‘wake-up call’ for OTAN to step up their game. So yes, OTAN will start spending more on defense, which will push back the USA percentage, but it will not certainly be the case that the USA will start spending less on defense. If anything it will keep its spending the same, but the total NATO budget will rise, thanks to the coming spending of OTAN.
This has been decided at the NATO Wales Summit 2014.

But to your actual question:
should they? Well, NATO is about security. And what is the best way to guarentee security? With might is usually the big answer. Or, to quote an US president: “speak softly but carry a big stick”. But NATO is the representative of the West. And though its first and foremost weapon is diplomacy and deterrence, this doesn’t mean that actual military might is less important. But military might shouldn’t be used carelessly. In a way OTAN represents the diplomacy part of NATO, whereas the US represents the deterrence part of NATO.
This duality is proof of the humanity of NATO and its goals. In the end I belief that yes, they should increase their spending, but this spending shouldn’t be more visible except to professionals.




I refer you to: Jean-Christophe Chazalette‘s answer.

But, the impulse to ask if this expense is in the US national interest is appropriate sometimes.  But, at this point in time, it makes the question’s poser seem disconnected from reality or an agent provocateur.

NATO is facing the very challenge it was designed to restrain.  It would be brain-numbingly stupid to withdraw US funding at this point.

That said, it is not beyond this current administration to make such a move with just this sort of justification.Write Answer

Usman Qazi

Usman Qazi, Frequently using my right to vote in the United States.

1.4k Views • Usman has 450+ answers in International Relations.

Besides the assertion being false, why should the Europeans subsidize the over-bloated and useless US war machine?

The media in the US blatantly promotes the interests of defense contractors. The prospect of working for defense contractors seems really tempting to a lot of military personnel, so ‘our national interest’ gets a strong ultra-patriotic boost. However, the most effective criticism of the military juggernaut also comes from people with military backgrounds.

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