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article imageOp-Ed: NATO wants more money spent on millitary

By Ken Hanly     Apr 8, 2014 in World
The crisis in Ukraine and the Russian support for annexation of Crimea has provided a golden opportunity for NATO and the US to push for more expenditure on the military.
Anders Rasmussen has used recent events as a platform to push for more spending by European governments on NATO to confront Russia. To a considerable extent the present confrontation is itself a result of the continued expansion of NATO itself to the borders of Russia with many former satellites and republics of the USSR having joined NATO in spite of promises by the west that it would not do so although there is debate about those promises. An article in Der Spiegel goes into the nitty-gritty which appears to show both the German foreign minister of the time Hans-Dietrich Genscher and the the USSR foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze seem to have later lied about what happened. Both deny that there was any promise given even though the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, then Jack Matlock, claims that a clear commitment was made. Shevardnadze, a Georgian, later became president of Georgia after it gained independence. New documentation shows that Matlock was probably correct: "On Feb. 10, 1990, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., Genscher spoke with Shevardnadze. According to the German record of the conversation, which was only recently declassified, Genscher said: "We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east." And because the conversion revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: "As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.""
Since that conversation over two decades ago there has been a constant progress of NATO east to the borders of Russia. To be fair this expansion has often been at the request of former satellites or parts of the Soviet Union who saw NATO as a protection against Russia but that does not change the fact that Russia not surprisingly sees the expansion as a broken promise and a threat by the west which now has military power right on its doorstep: Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, NATO has aggressively expanded eastward, especially in the past two decades. In 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined the alliance.
This was followed by the biggest expansion in NATO’s history; in 2004, seven new Eastern Europe member states joined the alliance — Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
To return to the topic, NATO, having now expanded to the borders of Russia and having as members countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, all bordering on Russia, now sees the necessity to expand not only geographically but in terms of military might. As it is now, NATO depends to a very large extent on the generosity of the U.S. taxpayer and the fact that the military-industrial complex in the US makes sure that its jobs and facilities are widely distributed in the U.S. so that any cuts in production generate a very negative political response. The US pays the lion's share of NATO costs: According to NATO’s 2013 annual report, Washington was paying 73 percent of the alliance’s defense expenditures, up from 68 percent in 2007.
No doubt the EU countries' reluctance to spend more on NATO and their military has many reasons. In some cases, such as Luxembourg, citizens probably see military expenditure as useless given their size and also the fact that neighbors are not seen as threatening them. Other countries such as Spain are in poor financial shape and cannot afford to devote more scarce resources to defense. It seems ironic that when the Troika of lenders insist that government's cut back spending NATO head Anders Rasmussen wants them all to spend more on defense. NATO leaders wants EU countries to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. Most European countries do not meet this target. Rasmussen said:“Every ally needs to invest the necessary resources in the right capabilities.That means modern equipment, intensive training for our forces, and closer cooperation among Nato allies and with our partners. I know how challenging this is in today’s economic climate, but the security climate makes it vital. In the long run, a lack of security would be more costly than investing now and we owe it to our forces, and to broader society.”
The average expenditure of EU members of NATO on defense is just 1.3 per cent. This contrasts with the US expenditure of 4.4 per cent of GDP for the world's single largest economy. Obama too wants everyone to chip in because "freedom isn't free" and a larger military buildup across Europe is necessary. Yet NATO as a whole spent $990 billion on its military altogether, the majority provided by the US, while Russia spent $90 billion. Obviously Russia has to up its military spending if it is to catch up with and surpass the west. Putin should be the one complaining about low defense expenditures.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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