Predictably, the NATO summit in Brussels on June 11-12 did not go well. And that's an understatement... The tone has been set for several weeks, and the incessant attacks of the US administration against its allies, in particular against Germany, accused of subornation and of enriching Russia.
And during the meeting on the 12th, which was to be devoted to relations with Ukraine and Georgia, tensions were such that the representatives of the two countries were asked to leave the room, so that the meeting could continue only between members. . It was then that President Trump issued, in a way, an ultimatum to the richest European countries, demanding that they devote 2% of their GDP to their Defense by the end of the year , failing which the United States will take its responsibilities “we are doing our own thing” in the text.
To conclude, as if that were not enough, he specified that the objective of NATO countries should not be limited to 2%, but aim for 4% of GDP.
These requirements are as incoherent as they are absurd…
On the one hand, President Trump cannot ignore the fact that no European government will be able to give in to his edicts, under penalty of creating an extraordinary populist bronca in their country.
On the other hand, it is simply not legally possible for a democratic European government, also a member of the EU and the Eurozone, to increase its defense spending in this way, unilaterally, with such a short deadline.
Let us add to this that the majority of European armies, France included, would simply not know what to do with such an increase in credit in such a short term, or in any case to do anything coherent. They will obviously be able to order equipment, but the defense industry would find itself unable to produce on time, and in any case, all European armies are struggling to recruit today.
As for the 4% objective, it simply has no materiality, bringing the cumulative defense budget of European countries to nearly $600 billion/year, almost 10 times Russia's budget. What would European countries do with a budget more or less equal to that of the United States? What would France do with 8 aircraft carriers, Germany with 6000 tanks, or the United Kingdom with 1000 combat planes?
Because this is what a 4% Europe would make it possible to finance...
This would also be a very bad signal sent to the world, and an even faster arms race than the one currently underway would undoubtedly emerge. This would also lead to real panic in Russia, which would mechanically strengthen its Defense and move even closer to China.
These points cannot be ignored, neither by European leaders, nor by President Trump's advisors. Its demands more closely resemble preparations for the United States to leave NATO, or at least an attempt to do so by the Trump administration. It should be noted that the US Congress has already made it known that it is opposed to leaving NATO, thereby confirming that the hypothesis is indeed on the table.
It is unlikely that the very powerful counter-powers in the United States will let President Trump go through with his project, but the fact remains that this represents the greatest existential crisis for NATO since its creation , a crisis reinforced by Turkey's increasingly detestable attitude (but that's another subject).
It therefore appears essential, within a short time frame, for European countries, including Great Britain, to take the necessary decisions to be able to ensure the protection of the continent without resorting to the military power of the United States. A hard core of European countries, for example the 12 countries of the alliance or the Europe of 15, on the basis of an initiative of the 3 major European nations (Germany, France, Great Britain), could constitute the framework and define the common objectives of a balanced and autonomous European Defense Alliance.