3 things to know about the Trump administration’s warning shots on NATO, Washington Post

“Americans cannot care more for your children’s security than you do,” U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis cautioned NATO defense ministers in Brussels in mid-February, urging European allies to get serious about providing for their own defense.

Mattis put the alliance on notice that U.S. patience was finite and suggested that Washington’s commitment to European security was potentially at risk, noting, “[If] your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.”…

Washington’s weariness over being Europe’s dominant security provider are long-standing and bipartisan. However, while Mattis was more diplomatic in his choice of language compared with President Donald Trump’s acerbic style, the implication was clear. The U.S. security commitment to Europe depends on alliance partners meeting their 2006 promise to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense…

The greater threat to NATO military readiness is about willpower, not money.

Divergent threat perceptions and parochial interests among the 28 members do more damage to NATO’s military credibility than spending ratios. As Russia demonstrated in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, decisiveness and first-mover advantage can compensate for limited resources and sophistication — Russia’s defense budget is barely larger than Britain’s and smaller than Saudi Arabia’s.

Conversely, there is little evidence to suggest that a better-funded army would make more dovish allies such as Germany more inclined to more aggressively confront Russian aggression. While its recent troop deployment to the Baltics sends a strong message, Germany is generally regarded as skeptical over deterring Russia, and even toward NATO obligations overall.

A 2015 Pew survey found that only 38 percent of Germans supported using force to defend NATO allies, compared with 56 percent among U.S. respondents and 53 percent in Canada (which spends less than 1 percent on defense). The relevant measure of Germany’s commitment to collective security is its willingness to act, not whether it spends 1 percent — or 10 percent — on defense. Läs artikel