On MSBNC’s Morning Joe today, Steven Rattner presented charts showing that while the US dominates in defense, Europe has collectively been spending at a faster pace and handily outspends all other countries.
Let’s stipulate that the Europeans spend much less on defense than the United States as a share of their gross domestic product. In 2017, only the United Kingdom, Greece and Estonia dedicated at least 2% of their GDP to defense (while the U.S. spent 3.6%.)
But let’s also recognize that since 2012, they have been increasing their defense budgets faster than we have. In 2018, collective spending on defense by European NATO members will increase by 4.8% (after adjusting for inflation) compared to an increase of 0.9% by the United States. (The decline between 2012 and 2015 was due in part to drawdown following the Iraq war.)
With continued gains, a majority of European countries are on track to reach 2% by the agreed upon deadline of 2024. This year, for example, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania will reach or exceed the 2% target.
It’s also important to note that apart from the United States, Europe collectively spends more on defense than any other country and notably, far more than Russia. In addition, Europe has a larger military force (1.8 million) than either the United States (1.3 million) or Russia (1.0 million). And nine European countries made a greater share of their military personnel available for the global war on terror than the United States did.
President Trump demanded Wednesday that Europe now increase its target for defense spending to 4%. That’s well above what the United States currently spends (3.5%) – and per Trump’s own FY 2019 budget, the allocation to defense spending is slated to fall over the next 10 years to 2.7%.