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Germany Renews Commitment to International Defense After Trump Admin Criticism

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President Donald Trump has long argued that America’s allies should be paying their “fair share” of international defense spending to meet obligations to the North Atlantic Treated Organization and the United Nations.

And it seems that — under a bit of pressure — German Chancellor Angela Merkel may finally be coming around to seeing things Trump’s way.

According to Reuters, Merkel announced on Aug. 13 that the European nation will renew its commitment to Western allies by working to increase defense spending to the amount agreed upon by all members of NATO — the investment of 2 percent of each member nation’s gross domestic product into defense measures, per the 2014 Wales Summit.

“We said we want to achieve 1.5% by 2024. And that is our common will,” Merkel told reporters in Stralsund, Germany. “And then we still have a lot of work to do for the next few years.”

“This means in the direction of 2%, and we will continue to go in this direction also after 2024,” she added.

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The largest economy in Europe, Germany put just 1.2 percent of its GDP toward defense spending in 2017, according to Forbes.

But Merkel said later in the week that no matter how painful, the nation’s first defense spending increase would be a strong jump to 1.41 percent of GDP by next year, Stars and Stripes reported.

“There are good reasons for the [U.S.] bases here in Germany but at the same time we know that we must take the pains to get the German military in better shape,” she told reporters Wednesday after a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

Much of the chancellor’s recommitment was perceived as an attempt by the chancellor to reorient the international defense spending dialogue.

The topic of defense spending became heated for the first time in months this August when U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell suggested America may pull tens of thousands of soldiers out of bases protecting the nation should it not make a more serious effort to meet its obligations to NATO.

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“It is actually offensive to assume that the U.S. taxpayer must continue to pay to have 50,000-plus Americans in Germany, but the Germans get to spend their surplus on domestic programs,” Grenell told one German news agency, according to Fox News.

To those who have followed the issue, Grenell’s remarks came as no surprise.

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Trump and members of his administration have long pointed to Germany as a key power shirking responsibilities to its foreign allies — particularly as other nations have come around to the idea of becoming more self-reliant in recent years.

“People are paying and I am very happy with the fact they are paying,” Trump said in April, according to Stars and Stripes. “Germany, honestly, is not paying their fair share.”

But even as the president said in April, that “is all changing,” and Merkel’s renewed commitment to Western defense initiatives signifies just that.

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.