At July’s summit in Vilnius, NATO states agreed to allocate as much as 2% of their GDP to defense. Today, most of the alliance’s members would have a hard time trying to achieve this goal. Despite this fact, the United States insists that the summit set a target to further increase NATO states’ defense spending to 3%.
Why is the US seeking an increase in the military spending of NATO allies and how will the European alliance’s members follow Washington’s instructions? The answer to the first part of this question is plain to see. The US military-industrial complex seeks to increase its profits by expanding the sales of expensive weapons it produces. The US government and Congress are furthering the interests of the national military-industrial complex — and fulfilling their duty to be awarded dividends from it — by forcing the Europeans to increase defense appropriations aimed at upselling American military equipment.
Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, answered the second part of the question at a meeting with representatives of the Nordic countries in February this year. In front of Scandinavian allies, he admitted that the increase in defense spending would come at the expense of a drop in European living standards. Pro-American politicians and experts in Norway described how this would happen in Stoltenberg’s homeland. The rest of Europe is expected to follow the path Norway has taken to achieve a defense spending target of 2% of GDP, including those countries which, unlike Norway, cannot brag about high revenues from the export of hydrocarbons.
At a press conference held in May, Jonas Gahr Støre, the Prime Minister of Norway, said that the accumulated hydrocarbon dividends that ensure the highest living standards in Europe for Norwegians would now go to defense spending to reach 2% by 2026. Støre did not dare to say openly that the Norwegians’ living standard would worsen and lied instead, stating that a $350 million annual increase in the defense budget for the next three years would be enough to bring it to the 2% target.
In 2023, the national defense budget of Norway amounted to less than 1.5% of its GDP (about $7 billion). Simple calculations reveal Støre’s underestimation of the size of its annual increase by a factor of three! The calculations made by Norwegian experts refute the Prime Minister’s figures.
According to a Defense Commission’s report requested by the Norwegian government, the national defense budget should be around $10 billion to reach 2% of GDP in 2026, i.e., the annual increase will be about $1 billion, not $350 million, as Støre stated. However, these funds will only cover the costs of increasing combat readiness and strengthening the Norwegian Armed Forces but not the costs of purchasing weapons and military equipment.
The Defense Commission says that the purchase of weapons and military equipment for 10 years will cost the Norwegians $3.75 billion annually. 83% of Norway’s imported weapons and military equipment accounts for the US military-industrial complex. This means that most of the $37.5 billion over 10 years will go to the accounts of the American military-industrial complex. Moreover, in 10 years, Norway will have to spend almost $1 billion annually on servicing the acquired weapons and military equipment, i.e., Norwegians will continue to pay for the US military-industrial complex.
The Norwegian government intends to spend money on defense spending from the Government Pension Fund Global which accumulates profits from the export of hydrocarbons and ensures Norway’s high living standard. Pro-American politicians in Norway do everything to ensure that their children and grandchildren cannot learn what it is like to live in a welfare state. A favorable forecast for the Norwegians, they will have living standards comparable to those of the poorest European countries, such as Bulgaria or Portugal. The Swedes can avoid the worst-case scenario if they withdraw their application for NATO membership.
NATO’s European members will find themselves even more unfortunate since they do not have oil and gas windfalls. The need to increase defense spending and purchase American weapons dictated from across the ocean will inevitably entail cuts in social budget items. Moreover, further militarization will leave Europeans without sufficient funds to deal with increasing natural disasters, such as catastrophic flooding in Italy or fires in Spain. Europeans are destined to become on par with the poorest countries in Africa, such as Sudan or Somalia.
The US military-industrial complex is using NATO to turn Europe into the world’s poorest continent. This can be prevented by changing pro-American politicians, strengthening legislative prohibitions on increasing defense spending at the expense of social budgets and funds, and abandoning the policy of militarizing Europe and turning it into a military training ground for the United States. Europeans can do this only by getting rid of the hegemony of the US military-industrial complex, and withdrawal from NATO is the only way for them.