NATO nations drum up defence dollars

While most of us are trying to save up these days, NATO nations are spending on defence like a rich kid who got their hands on their daddy’s credit card.

Driving the news: NATO projects that 18 of its 31 member states will meet the military bloc’s goal of spending at least 2% of annual GDP on defence this year. That’s over 58% of members, compared to 35% just last year and a paltry 14% of members a decade ago.  

  • European members are set to spend a record US$380 billion on defence this year, with marquee names like Germany reaching the 2% mark for the first time.  

Why it’s happening: NATO leaders are worried about the prospect of another Donald Trump presidency after the former president said he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to European members that don’t meet the 2% threshold. 

  • Trump had something of a love-hate relationship with NATO during his time in office, repeatedly railing against underpaying countries and even threatening to withdraw.  

Why it matters: A Russian invasion is a very real fear for several NATO nations. If Trump is elected and he actually does refuse to uphold the bloc’s mutual defence clause, obligating members to come to the defence of invaded members, NATO would be effectively useless.

  • Even with increased defence capabilities since the invasion of Ukraine, Europe would be S-O-L without the U.S. and its 80,00 troops stationed on the continent, unmatched deployment capabilities, and, the ultimate ace up the sleeve, a flush nuclear arsenal.

In Canada: The Great White North is unlikely to ever meet the 2% target, though it did just pledge ~$273 million total to update air defence and anti-drone systems for Canadian troops stationed in Latvia as part of its contribution to NATO’s deterrence campaign in the Baltics. 

Zoom out: All of this defence spending news comes on the heels of a report by The New York Times that the U.S. briefed allies, including Canada, on new intel about a Russian space-based nuclear anti-satellite weapon that could pose a threat to national security.—QH