military and non-military spending on security

Princeton political scientist Andrew Moravcsik argues that Europe pays its fair share of Nato security once non-military spending is included along with military spending. This is an interesting perspective, as non-military spending does contribute to security, and 23 of the 28 Nato members are criticised for spending less than 2% of GDP on defence.

Many Americans insist that Europe should spend more on both defence and on civilian power but … this demand is not only unrealistic, it is also unfair. And no one in Washington proposes to reciprocate by redressing America’s own endemically low commitment to civilian power.

For years Europeans have argued that the US should “pay what it owes” to the UN and to international development efforts. Instead, the Trump administration now wants to cut foreign aid and support for refugees, seems to disdain international legal and financial commitments, maintains a lukewarm attitude towards free trade, intends to reduce State Department funding and has not even bothered to appoint diplomats in some important parts of the world.

The real lesson of this transatlantic spat is that Nato should reassess the 2 per cent of GDP commitment of each member in terms of both military and non-military spending that promotes common western security. American military spending and Europe’s spending on civilian power would largely offset one another, with each side focusing disproportionately on what it does best. This may not be ideal, but it is the best we can expect in the real world.

Andrew Moravcsik, “Europe pays its fair share whatever Donald Trump says“, Financial Times, 27 May 2017 (metered paywall).

Professor Moravcsik (born 1957) has published one book, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Cornell University Press, 1998), in addition to a large number of book chapters and journal articles.

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