Deciphering NATO’s $1.3 Trillion Spending

( – While campaigning and holding rallies, likely Republican presidential nominee former President Donald Trump has been speaking about NATO and its funding. He tells stories about his time as president and how he had to forcefully get other member nations to pay their committed shares to the organization. Trump has recounted conversations he had with the head of NATO in which he warned that if other nations did not start paying their share, he would not commit the United States to defending them against potential Russian aggression.

The media of course lambasted Trump and created the narrative that he must be a proxy of Putin and Russia because he did not unconditionally commit full allegiance and use of the American military to NATO. Trump has often made the case that when combined, the member nations of NATO have a similar GDP to that of the United States and their spending should demonstrate that. He says not only does it not match up but also that the US is grossly overpaying to defend nations that share a hemisphere with Russia, and this imbalance cannot continue.

It seems despite the media histrionics, Trump was correct. Last year, NATO’s entire budget was roughly $1.3 trillion. Of that amount the United States paid a whopping $860 billion, meaning all the other nations combined paid $440 billion. They paid less than half the cost of defending their own nations as US taxpayers did (68%) from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The second highest contributing nation was Germany at $68 billion, then the UK at $65 billion. Every member nation has committed to pay at least 2% of their annual GDP to NATO but for many years only the US and Poland have met that requirement.

Another gripe NATO critics have is their allocation of their funding. Each year they dedicate more money to staff salaries, pension funds, and green initiatives than the prior year. Critics argue that they need to spend less on green energy and climate change issues and more on combat-ready military personnel.

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