The pledge is real. But is it realistic? Nearly three years after it promised to meet a NATO guideline calling for billions more toward the nation’s defense funding over the coming decade, the German government is sending mixed signals over whether the goal is feasible—or even necessary. Opposition came this week not just from the foreign minister, whose coalition-member Social Democrats (SPD) will challenge German chancellor Angela Merkel in fall elections. It came from Merkel’s own party, whose parliamentary budget expert called the idea “unreasonable.” The debate reflects how a symbol of transatlantic cooperation—an expectation that member states spend two percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense—has turned into a political tool on both sides of the Atlantic, and one that says little about military capabilities. “Because it’s a very handy metric, it can be politicized easily,” Jan Techau of the American Academy in Berlin told DW. New metric The two-percent metric was first used in 2002 as a way for U.S. administrations to encourage European nations to begin reinvesting in defense budgets that had been gutted after the Cold War. It was also helpful for proving to Americans back home that an alliance largely funded with U.S. dollars… Read full this story
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